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Jacqueline Simcox Ltd

Chatsworth Silk Brocade (detail)
Chinese, circa 1830
Length: 482 inches (12.24 meters);
width: 29 1/2 inches (74.9 cm)

A partial bolt of yellow silk brocade, woven in China for export to Europe in the 1830s. It is identical to the silk which was bought in England at one of the Customs Houses by the 6th Duke of Devonshire to use at Chatsworth as curtains and cornices for the Library and shortly after moved to the Yellow Drawing Room. Other cornices of the same material were removed to Devonshire House in London. This is a rare documentary silk, in perfect condition, and is striking with the brilliant yellow ground and large lotus and peony blossoms. Such textiles were frequently mistaken for Indian silk, since India was typically the last country where purchases were loaded onto the trading ships. In 1844 the Duke recorded in his handbook: 'More Indian silk, yellow, bought at the Custom House at the same time as the red' and 'The curtains here as well as in the dining room are made of Indian silk'. In her book Chatsworth: The House (2002), p. 173, the current dowager Duchess of Devonshire states that a past housekeeper kept a fragment of this particular silk which had Chinese characters printed on the back.

A direct comparison of the pattern can be seen in a bolt of blue silk satin with velvet flowers and foliage, dating to the Qianlong period (1736-95), now in The Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Textiles and Embroideries of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, pl. 28, vol. 50 of The Complete collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, 2005.

all text & images Jacqueline Simcox Ltd

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