Part of a pair of shawls along with (ZI2021.500952.6 EUROPE).
This fine silk (long_shawl) dating back to mid 19th century was originally a part of the Dr Joan Coleman Collection. It was part of a pair of shawls along with (ZI2021.500952.6 EUROPE) both of which were later acquired by The Zay Initiative from Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2021.
Dr Joan Coleman began collecting shawls in 1976 and developed her lifelong passion for collecting. She was a regular at the London salesrooms of Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips – three of the most outstanding auction houses of the period in the world – getting to know the dealers and learning in the process. She acquired vast knowledge and dedicated hours carefully cataloguing her ever-growing collection. She intended to loan her collection to different museums and institutions for the benefit of learning and education. Her collection is one of the largest and the finest private shawl collections to have ever graced the world with shawls ranging from Kashmir, Paisley, Edinburgh, Norwich, France, and Iran.
This beautiful rectangular piece is a fine example of a printed Norwich long_shawl on silk (gauze) in (leno) weave. It has a plain ivory body with a beetroot red border and designs and decorations printed in multiple colours.
With a (quadrille) woven border although this shawl does not reflect the design distribution typical of long_shawl of the period. Instead, it follows uniformity throughout. Originating at the workshops of one of Norwich’s famous shawl makers of the time – Towler & Campin – this piece is decorated with extremely intricate floral patterns and motifs.
Although attributed to (block_printing) by the previous collector, Kerry Taylor, the intricacy of its design in a variety of colours – ivory, beetroot red, olive green, fuchsia pink, light blue, and yellow – and the precision in its application suggests that it was most likely printed using (silk_screen_printing) / (screen_printing) technique. The swirling floral pattern runs along all the sides of the shawl framing the centre which is an empty ivory ground. A series of fringes created by twilling quadrille threads are attached to the hems of both the (warp) ends with the help of machine stitches hanging loosely contributing to its beauty.
Towler & Campin was a prominent shawl-making company in 19th century Norwich, England, and the entire Great Britain. Established in the 1820s, the company’s quick rise to fame was a result of its high-quality shawls made of wool, silk, and other luxurious materials.
Known for their intricate designs, often featuring paisley/buta, floral, foliate, and other intricate motifs and patterns, their shawls were mostly manufactured on the (jacquard) looms – a primary contributor behind their success. By the mid-19th century, Towler & Campin had become one of the largest shawl manufacturers and primary players in the industry in Great Britain and abroad.
The company’s largest contribution to the industry was perhaps establishing Norwich on the map as one of the prominent textile manufacturing centres of the world. From employing 500 workers to boasting a client list that included Queen Victoria and Empress Eugénie of France, they also contributed to the development of shawl-making techniques.
Within the community of collectors, Towler and Campin shawls are highly prized even today. They serve as valuable examples for insights into the 19th-century textile industry, especially its design and craftsmanship.
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