Early American Printed Cotton Textiles (Elinor Merrill Collection)
- Dates: October 1931 through November 30, 1931
- Organizing Department: Prints, Drawings and Photographs
Date unknown, approximately 1931: The decorative arts department of the museum has arranged an exhibition of a number of early American printed cotton textiles from the collection of Klinor Merrell. These highly picturesque textiles are interesting reminders of a taste of an earlier day that hss returned to popularity in the present day. The examples shown are of French, English and domestic origin, but all were chosen because of a subject interest in early American events or personages. Two handkerchiefs are shown decorated with carefully drawn representations, one of the death of Washington surrounded by friends and relatives, and adorned in the corner with such stock phrases as “First in the Hearts and of his Countrymen”; the other design is commemorative of his resignation speech. Another historical print is of Penn’s treaty with the Indians and is after the famous picture by Benjamin West and date about 1800. One of the most amusing of the portrait subjects is one of Zachary Taylor showing him mounted on his horse in his characteristic mode---side saddle fashion.
For the past several years modern reproductions of these prints have been popular with interior decorators in the adornment of modern homes, and it is valuable to see these cotton , and cotton and linen materials with bold designs printed on them in shade of brown, mauve and ever popular pink and a few multi-color ones. With the exception of one wood block print, these examples are all drawn from copper plate engravings. They have been hung near the entrance of the American rooms and will remain on view until November 30th. It is the first of a series of small exhibitions planned to show Early American artistic manufactures and Decorative Endeavors.
For contrast in a neighboring gallery is being displayed a small collection of textiles and foibles of the past decade. Prints that have had a fleeting popularity during the last ten years are shown including, among those familiar to everyone, the famous was bonnet design that appeared in some form of other in almost every woman’s wardrobe. It is intriguing to examine the ultra modern print of a few years ago from the angle of the later developments along that mode. With these materials are shown a collection of the “floppy” dolls and fashion mannequins that has such a great vogue a short seven years ago
And in still another part of the decorative art department are hung half a dozen bed spreads of romantic origin. Some time ago a gentleman from India whose business is the exporting of cotton to the United States went through the Museum accompanied by his American agent. He was impressed by the superb collection of Early American bed spreads on display, and evidently took notes of some sort, for a few months after his return to India a large parcel arrived at the Museum and in it were the above mention bed spreads. In his factory in India he had set his girl employees to creating a new form of cloth design in which not only many of the American motifs crop up but the technic of appliqué is used. The color is a little more subtle than the primitive American use, but the appearance of certain zig-zag lines and head-and-leaf motifs is easily seen, all curiously mixed up with the Tree of Life and native motifs. But is it not interesting to see to what far regions the influence of museum may be thrown?
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1931 - 1936. 07-12_1931, 122. View Original