Date of this Version
Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.
The proposed paper will investigate the history and iconography of copperplate-printed bed furniture in a pattern known as "Washington and American Independance (sic) 1776: The Apotheosis of Franklin" or "The Apotheosis of Franklin and Washington," produced in England for the American market c. 1795. The pattern features two of America's founding fathers surrounded by representations of liberty and various aspects of the American Revolution. After a brief overview of the development of cotton "washing furnitures" and the copperplate-printing technique, the paper will then look critically at the pattern's iconography in the context of contemporary prints and copperplates featuring revolutionary and patriotic themes. Bed furnitures made from this pattern were ubiquitous-- or remarkable-- enough that many extant pieces are present in the collections of museums ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to smaller organizations like Anderson House and Dumbarton House in Washington, DC. The paper will conclude by using provenance records and written materials to approach questions about the use and ownership of these hangings. Who owned these textiles, and where did they live? What kinds of chambers were they used to decorate? What sort of people fell asleep surrounded by images of America's most celebrated heroes, or ushered their guests into rooms adorned with the symbols of American liberty? By analyzing these pieces from origin to end use, this paper aims to develop a deeper idea of how domestic textiles contributed to the political environment of everyday life in the fledgling American republic.