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Lecture, ’Very full of Work’: Patterns of Printed Textile Scholarship

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This talk will highlight the history of printed textiles and those who studied, made, and consumed them from the 18th C to the present.

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Online via Zoom. Textile Arts Council September Saturday Lecture. A recording will be available for 14 days after the talk.

Presented by Dr. Laura E. Johnson

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.

Julia Brenner, whose collection is celebrated in the upcoming exhibition To Teach and Inspire: The Julia Brenner Textile Collection at the de Young, was another 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.

In her 2014 introduction to Printed Textiles: British and American Cottons and Linens, 1700-1850, the late Linda Eaton, Curator Emerita of Textiles at Winterthur, offered a concise and thorough grounding in the history of printed textile scholarship. She is one 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.

Dr. Johnson will also examine today’s research interests in global markets, the role of enslaved persons in production and consumption of printed goods, and even industrial espionage. Research into all of these areas has roots in the work these collectors and curators began.


		Lecture, ’Very full of Work’: Patterns of Printed Textile Scholarship image

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.


		Lecture, ’Very full of Work’: Patterns of Printed Textile Scholarship image

Image Credits:

1. Ducks, Talwin and Foster, Bromley Hall Printworks . Quilt made 1810-1850 from textile printed 1765-75. Madder, cotton. Winterthur Museum. Gift of Henry Francis du Pont. 1956.0614.001

2. Photo courtesy of Dr. Laura E. Johnson.

3. Printed linen, Walters & Bedwell (printers), Philadelphia; 1775–76. Madder, indigo, linen. Gift of Henry Francis du Pont. Winterthur Museum. 1958.0605.005

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MISSION

We are a support group of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco with the goal of advancing the appreciation of the Museums’ textile and costume collections. We are a Bay Area forum that provides lecturers, workshops, events and travel opportunities for artists, designers, aficionados and collectors of ethnic textiles, rugs, tapestries, costume, and contemporary fiber art.

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