Pattern books, principles and the floral tradition in British textile design. 1830-1910

Humphries, Tania M B (1997) Pattern books, principles and the floral tradition in British textile design. 1830-1910. (MPhil thesis), Kingston University, .


My aim in this study is to determine what factors brought about the visual changes in the floral image, as seen on designs for textiles and wallpaper in Britain, during the period 1830 - 1910. I also intend to investigate the relationship between abstraction and the floral image during the period. F or the purposes of my discussion I use "abstraction" in a specialised sense, that is, the grouping of shapes and colours in visually coherent patterns. Further I divide this into two types which I describe as objective and subjective abstraction. The Schools of Design, later renamed, Schools of Art, and the Arts and Crafts Movement provide a focus for the study. Changes in the socio-economic environment, changes in technology, or changes in all aspects of the cultural environment, while relevant, are beyond the scope of the present study. Nor do I take into account the object in use unless this was thought to be of particular significance by the designer. I consider, in detail, the educational ideology and intellectual climate of the period. Themes such as the changing meaning of the word 'design' and the position of science and botany in design education, are discussed. In addition, the influence of design traditions and commercial influences on the Schools of Design will be considered. Discussion, with particular reference to the Arts and Crafts Movement, concerning the evolving intellectual argument regarding stylized versus naturalistic treatment of the floral image will be central. The roles of symbolism and medievalism are also considered. The published literature of contemporary educators and designers, examples and comments from contemporary journals, existing materials, existing designs and pattern books as well as other archival material are used as evidence to substantiate my conclusion. The study brings together much contemporary information which although already widely known, has not before been collated and analysed in the present context.

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