Thursday, October 3, 2013

Prelle's Folies

photo St Tyl

Concurrent with the exhibit Folie Textile at the Palais de Compiegne and right on the Place des Victoires  in Paris, The Manufacture Prelle presents a shimmering, multicolored tribute to Second Empire textiles entitled La soie dans tous ses états: Second Empire
It's the occasion to come nose to nose with some of the finest silks of the period as well as some contemporary costume and decorative arts - furniture, crystal and silver.

photo St Tyl
 The archival fabrics here as in the exhibit at Compiègne attest to the quality of an abundant semi-industrialized production that upheld the savoir-faire of master craftsmen in this prosperous period. Not wishing to break with the traditional references and values of the ancien régime, it was the pleasure of the new privileged class to furnish their homes with the finest of silks. Never before had the world had such a   vast selection of different period styles and exotic influences ready for the choosing. Some favored examples above - Chinoiserie, Rococo and the ever present naturalistic flowers.

At this period of time, an école de fleurs opened at the Fine Arts School of Lyon to perfect the skills of textile designers in the ever growing domain of flowers. The painter Joseph Guichard who was a professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts also created designs for the manufacture. His style is marked by flamboyant over-sized flowers and eccentric colors.

photo St Tyl
On the right, a Renaissance-inspired velvet panel designed by Lemire in 1858. Pierre Manguins used it in  1865 for his sumptuous decoration of the hotel particulier of the celebrated courtisane, la Marquise de Paiva on the Champs-Elysées. The decorator apparently touched up Lemire's arabesques because the production records note 'modifications by Mr Manguin'.

On the mirror is a brocard which also dates from 1858 that was qualified in the register as 'Louis XIII'. This  mid-19th century concoction makes up an imaginary bestiary with influences from the Asian, Mexican and European 'bizarre' style. It is aptly named, Fantasia. 

photo St Tyl
The red satin in the center is a portière designed by Arthur Martin. 
Its technique and composition form the basis for the splendid entrance hall curtains created by Prelle and recently installed at the Opéra Comique of Paris. 

photo St Tyl
In 1890, decorator Jules Allard chose these two fabrics for Mr and Mrs William K. Vanderbilt at Marble House, Newport. He used the chiseled velvet to the left to decorate the dining room and the lampas termed 'Henri II'  for Mrs Vanderbilt's bedroom. Both were designed by Roux in 1867.

photo St Tyl

La soie dans tous ses états: Second Empire


  1. OK I'm sold! Where do I sign up to buy these fabrics? Arggghhh! The colors! They say it was fabrics from Matisse's hometown that inspired his gift for color and arabesques. These would surely do it! Loved the Castiglione post!

    1. I love your enthusiasm! We should all have at least one chair covered with a really precious cloth such as one of these - a curtain, a bedspread, a pillow, something. Thanks for your comment.