The world famous toile de jouy fabrics which have stolen many a heart   and typify the ‘French style’ were first made in Jouy en Josas , just                             outside Paris, by the river Bièvre where Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf decided to locate his printing workshops. From 1760, toile de jouy from Jouy en Josas has depicted scenes from everyday life and from mythology involving classical architecture and legend, appealing      equally to the literate and the artisan.

On an off white ground, the typical colours are the earth classics of       red, blue, yellow, black.  The red madder, indigo, turmeric or saffron, iron and their derivitives; exactly the same dyes which have been used for printing in India for millenia. So softer blues, sepia tones, dulled pinks, mauves, blackberry tones and greys can all be found in antique fragments and collections.

These were the first printed cotton cloths in France and it’s interesting  and in many ways pleasing that the charm and simplicity is every bit as                        welcome today as it was then.

Oberkampf hired the most talented artists of his time, most noteably     Jean-Baptiste Huet. The quality of these prints is unsurpassed and I                             wonder whether that has not small bearing on the matter.  The printing is effected by copper plate giving very fine detailed and hatched impressions.

As with all furniture and furnishings, these toiles did go out of fashion    for a while, and manufacturing stopped in 1843. The Oberkampf Museum is open and there are lovely exhibitons form time to time.

There are other companies, namely Burger who still print in the traditional manner and using traditional designs.

I like to see toile de jouy en masse – with itself, not too disseminated;          there is something really lovely about a ‘toile de jouy nest, ‘ that adds      up to greatly  more than its sum.

There are many and various ‘toile ‘ designs on the market. Not all of which do justice to the heritage.  For the best look look to Manuel Canovas, Pierre Frey, Braquenie, Burger,Christopher Moore  – the toile man.




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