Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Home Beautiful: The Activities of the Farm Toile, 1792

The Victoria & Albert Museum
The term “toile” is a French word which came into the English language in the Sixteenth Century and referred specifically to plain linen or canvas. By the late Eighteenth Centuries, French and English craftsmen were using “toile de jouy,” a phrase which has since been shortened to simply, “toile.” “Toile de juoy” referred to a specific printed linen which depicting very complex scenes (ranging from the pastoral to the courtly) in a bold color (blue, red, green, brown, black, purple) on a light-colored background.

I’ve always been a fan of toile and very much enjoy the look of it because it conveys at once a sense of elegance and casual charm. This particular toile from the Victoria & Albert Museum dates to 1792 and was printed from a copperplate designed by Jean-Baptiste Huet, manufactured by the firm Oberkampf. With its detailed scenes of “the activities of the farm” depciting idealized peasant women and their pets on a background of antique structures comes from fragments from the collection of Madame Mayoux, a Parisian gallery owner and collector, who donated the scraps to the V&A in 1919. It’s quite gorgeous, isn’t it?
Toile de Jouy is still manufactured today in a variety of colors and with a wide array of scenes and themes. The addition of toile works for any room in your home and is an excellent way to inject elegance into any space.

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