Although this fabric sample does show signs of wear, it’s fun to see the real thing. This fabric was probably used for Joséphine’s gowns but it may have had other uses such as bed treatments or window treatments. It is too light weight for upholstery use. The dots may predate her use of bees in fabrics that we still use in interiors today.
Extremely elegant and sympathetic to those around her, as Empress, Joséphine was constantly on display. Per the exhibition:
“She was the best dressed women in the Empire and acted as an ambassador for French distinction.”
Joséphine made the court the most luxurious in Europe. Her clothing, copied by the textile industry for all the European courts. We see here one of her gowns and a close-up of the beautiful fabric design.
Here we see another of the paintings featuring Joséphine’s wonderful gowns with a paisley influence in her custom designed pattern. As in the previous post, the fabric reflects her love of flowers. This time her colors are more intense. Note her tiny slipper in juxtaposition to all the surrounding heaviness. Trés demure.
Here we have a portrait of Joséphine in one of her gowns featuring her fabric designs or of those in her hire. The pattern reflects her love of florals but used in a unique pattern which closely resembles what we know as paisley today. The French words for paisley are boteh and palme. The origins of paisley are from India and Pakistan. For reference, Joséphine was crowned Empress in the 1804. Per Wikipedia:
Local manufacturers in Marseilles began to mass-produce the patterns via early textile printing processes at 1640. England, circa 1670, and Holland, in 1678, soon followed. This, in turn, provided Europe’s weavers with more competition than they could bear, and the production and import of printed paisley was forbidden in France by royal decree from 1686 to 1759. However, enforcement near the end of that period was lax, and France had its own printed textile manufacturing industry in place as early at 1746 in some locales. Paisley was not the only design produced by French textile printers; the demand for paisley which created the industry there also made possible production of native patterns such as toile de Jouy.
The fabrics for the Empress were, of course, custom designs.