The expression “Toile de Jouy” has unfortunately become practically a generic for fabrics with monochrome figures intended for upholstery. But if we take into account all the fabrics made at Jouy, the heritage it represents is infinitely richer. The number of floral and geometric motifs created at Jouy is estimated at over 30,000! Whereas the number of character prints are roughly 200.
The “Trades of the Manufactory" cloth. It describes in an organised
the different stages of printing the Toile de Jouy fabrics.
This unfamiliarity of the diversity of fabrics printed at the mill can be partly explained by the fact that the smaller motifs were more intended for clothing, so doomed to wear and tear and their disappearance, whereas the upholstery fabrics had a longer life expectancy. It must also be noted that Jouy was not the only place to print character fabrics, even if they are by far the most well-known. These popular prints were also made in Alsace, Nantes, Angers, Normandy, Marseille and Provence – as well as in Great Britain and Italy.
Left : the museum has conserved a superbe collection of hand-written confirmations of orders from merchants and manufactory clients. All these documents come from the museum archives.
Right : Fabrics known as “Mignonnettes” or miniatures. These small scale simple geometric motifs could be produced in an infinite variety of patterns.
Inspired by botany or more stylized flowers, the “Bonnes Herbes” (botanical plants) fabrics were a lasting success at the manufacture. They were printed on a base called “ramoneur” (chimney sweep) on account of their dark tones - black, brown or bronze. These motifs of flowers and dense foliage were not, as is often thought, an exclusivity of the Provence region. The manufactory archives contain traces of numerous shipments for, among others, the Beaucaire market, an important trade centre in the Provence region.
Indiennes were another of the great specialities of the manufactory. In the 17th century, the method known as “indiennes” referred to wool, silk or cotton fabrics with a printed or painted motif (as opposed to motifs obtained by weaving different coloured threads). At the time, indiennes came from India, Persia or China. These brightly coloured fabrics were immensely popular in Europe, both for clothing and upholstery. Despite the numerous bans to protect national production, hundreds of manufactories opened to imitate these fabrics. In the 18th century, “indiennes” signified printed cotton fabrics, “indiennage” was the printing of these fabrics and “indienneurs” referred to the producers.