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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Glazed Chintz

IN spite of the fact that modern ingenuity is producing new fabrics and weaves every season, one of the most useful materials in home decoration is still the old-fashioned glazed chintz. This fabric, glossy and smart looking, may not only cover a chair, serve as a window hanging or lend its beauty to the wall panels of a room, but it may also cushion wicker furniture on suburban porches and encase the pillows of Summer hammocks.

One observes it in rooms with furniture of the great periods of eighteenth century France and England as well as of our own Colonial times, giving an authentic and beautiful touch. In living rooms and bedroom of democratic assemblages of furniture one sees it in a variety of designs. These run the gamut from East Indian to the bright, strange modernistic mode.

While in Colonial days, it was customary to have the chintz window and bed hangings of the same pattern, with even the wall paper in corresponding design, decorators today are inclined to use glazed chintz in combination with other fabrics or with chintz of solid color. Of course, the chintz window hangings may be reflected in a chair or two or in a sofa upholstered in another pattern of chintz; or the dominating color in the window hangings may decide the hue for the solid-color chintz on a chair.

One reason for the popularity of this glazed fabric is that its surface does not easily collect dust. When it needs to be cleaned, a damp cloth will freshen it. Nowadays the better dry cleaners will take glazed chintz, even made-up pieces such as slip covers, and restore them. This dust-shedding character of glazed chintz is especially useful in current attempts to brighten the kitchen. Here glazed chintz window shades prove useful and ornamental.

An unusual use for glazed chintz is the pasting of a cut out design from a figured chintz-perhaps a spray of flowers or one of the small pictorial schemes-on the backs of the old-fashioned wooden chairs. Borders cut from oldfashioned chintz may be employed as a decoration for large parchment lamp shades. Small shades of glazed chintz are charmingly cheerful under light and in daytime are gay notes of color in the room.

Modern chintzes may be had in four different kinds of glazes. These range from a hard texture with a pronounced sheen to a glossy finish to which dust does not cling, yet has the softness of an unglazed fabric. Then there is a kind with a soft, lustrous surface that reproduces the gloss of the Indian calendered chintzes. The fourth variety has with its shiny surface the stiff body that is generally associated with glazed chintz.

Just how long ago the glazing of chintz was first practiced is not known. Chintz itself was one of the novelties introduced from India after trading was opened up with that country in the seventeenth century. Possibly glazed chintz was originated by the Dutch, who have given us a similarly treated fabric, the "Holland" cloth used for window shades.

Even in early times chintz was a much prized and serviceable fabric, as we know from the references to it in letters and books under a variety of names. Pintados, calicuts, callimancoes and palampores, with the plain "chint" mentioned by Pepys in 1663, were some of its designations.

The designs of early times persist in spite of their oldfashioned air because they were made by artists. Oberkampf, the famous French maker of chintz, employed the best artists of his time-men like Vernet, Lebas and Huet. The quaint pictorial designs of the last named, such as "The Miller, His Son and the Ass" and "The Four Seasons," are still adding to the beauty of our rooms, even though drawn 150 years ago.

The drastic prohibitions of the English Government (which, in order to protect the domestic silk and wool industry, forbade between 1700 and 1775 all importation of chintzes and other decorative stuffs from the East) did not prevent the use of smuggled printed cottons by the well to do. By the last quarter of the century English printed chintzes with new or adapted designs were usurping the place of the Indian fabrics.

Modern designers are, of course, creating new patterns and refinements of line and color reflecting modernistic art. The old-time patterns persist, because they can be associated admirably with other furnishings borrowed from the same decorative periods.

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