Anna Maria Garthwaite (16901763), designer; Thomas Brant, weaver
Silk; 68 1/2 x 19 1/2 in. (174 x 49.5 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1962 (62.136.1)
Anna Maria Garthwaite began designing silks in the mid-1720s, when she was in her thirties. It is not known how she learned the art of designing for silk weaving, but her efficient use of materials and, more importantly her graceful designs show that she thoroughly understood her craft. Her family was acquainted with several naturalists of the period, which may account for the skilled rendering of flowers seen in her work.
Many of the designs she produced from the 1720s through 1756 have been preserved in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, including the original design drawing for this silk along with another example of the textile itself. Most of Garthwaite's extant drawings are annotated with the date of the design, in addition to technical notes and sometimes even the name of the weaver to whom the design was sold. The colors of the design on paper are generally those that were woven. But in this case, the weaver changed the color scheme slightly and added a texture to the background.
This design is typical of English dress silks of the period: the spare sprays of flowers are set on a white background, and the branch supporting the flowers meanders back and forth across the width of the fabric. The appearance of the truncated branch from which various types of flowers bloom may be a nod to the chinoiserie trend in the eighteenth-century Rococo style.