Unknown MakerEnglish Pillar Print Chintz
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Patricia Smith Melton
Pillar prints were a uniquely English phenomenon. Between about 1800 and 1840, hundreds of luxury chintz designs depicting classical columns garlanded with flowers and adorned with ribbons, birds, or wicker fruit baskets were retailed by all the leading textile printers. Although extremely popular in the United States, for some reason the architectural style was never fashionable in Europe. A representational stripe pattern, in the 1820s and 1830s pillar prints were regularly used on American best quilts as borders, as long strips in bar-patterned designs, and as tops for whole-cloth bedcovers. They were also cut up for setting squares and smaller pieces in patchwork patterns. Before 1820, pillar prints were entirely hand-blocked; afterwards, they were printed by a combination of rollers and woodblocks. Vivid blue backgrounds were popular.