Patterns of Printed Textile Scholarship


Ducks Quilt

’Very full of work’: Patterns of printed textile scholarship

Presented by Laura Johnson

Saturday, September 18, 2021, 10am PT
Online Presentation via Zoom
Admission: Free to TAC Members, $5 Students and members of FAMSF, $10 General Admission.
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Zoom link will be emailed to all TAC members

Join Dr. Laura Johnson, the Linda Eaton Associate Curator of Textiles at the Winterthur Museum for this illustrated talk highlighting the history of printed textiles and those who studied, made, and consumed them from the eighteenth century to the present day.

When Philadelphians such as the Wisters ordered fashionable printed cottons in the mid-eighteenth century, they demanded that patterns be “Very full of Work.” An identical description might apply to the efforts of those who save and share those same textiles. Winterthur Museum, Gardens and Library stewards an extraordinary collection of printed and painted textiles that founder Henry Francis du Pont began assembling in the mid-1920s.

In her 2014 introduction to Printed Textiles: British and American Cottons and Linens, 1700-1850, Senior Curator of Textiles Linda Eaton offered a concise and thorough grounding in the history of printed textile scholarship. Now Curator Emerita, Linda Eaton is the latest in a long line of curators that began with the inimitable Florence M. Montgomery. Her work connects Mr. du Pont and Winterthur’s collection to an international group of scholars working in the first half of the twentieth century. Julia Brenner, whose collection Laura Camerlengo’s new exhibition at the de Young Museum helps celebrate, was part of the same national trend to save and share these important textiles. Mr. du Pont, like Brenner, deeply appreciated both their beauty and their often complicated history.

Today’s research interests in global markets, the role of enslaved persons in production and consumption of printed goods, and even industrial espionage all have roots in the work these collectors and curators began.

Portrait of Laura Johnson
Dr. Laura E. Johnson is the Linda Eaton Associate Curator of Textiles at Winterthur. Johnson received her PhD from the University of Delaware Program in American Civilization and an MA in Early American Culture from the Winterthur Program. She has consistently focused on textiles, identity, and Indigenous material culture in her academic and curatorial practice. She has researched and lectured on the history of reproduction textiles, historic interiors, metallic threads, and all forms of needle arts. Before coming to Winterthur, she spent ten years at Historic New England, where she built relationships with diverse communities and increased the institution’s ability to tell the stories of New England’s LGBTQ+ and BIPOC residents. She has curated exhibitions on jewelry, fashion, and Indigenous trade items, and published in both academic and popular contexts about fashion and identity.

Image Credits:
1. Ducks, Talwin and Foster, Bromley Hall Printworks. Quilt made 1810-1850 from textile printed 1765-75. Madder cotton. Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. Gift of Henry Francis du Pont. 1956.0614.001.
2. Photo courtesy of Laura Johnson.

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