Printed by George Ormerod, Wallington, Surrey, England
This block printed palampore printed by George Ormerod of Wallington, Surrey in 1752 is one of the most important pieces in the Costume and Textiles department at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This textile, together with one dated in 1751 by the same printer (location at present unknown), is the earliest example of English calico printing that can be attributed to a named printer. The Ormerod coverlet is similar in style to examples commissioned in India primarily by the Dutch in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with the armorial bearings of the purchaser substituting for the usual floral center and corner motifs. The coverlet is inscribed with the dedication, 'To John Vandermersch, Esqr., East-India Merchant of London, and to Rebecca his virtuous spouse, this is dedicated by their most humble obedient servant George Ormerod, Senr of Wallington, Surrey. Anno Domini 1752” and the verse: “On Virtue. The Companion of Arts And Mother of Fame No Cloud Whats'Ever can Obscure Her Light. Virtue’s A Glow-worm And Will Shine by Night.” The main border includes a design with elephants, lions, figures with bows, armorial bearings, birds, and flowers while the central panel includes the same figures with bows, trumpeting angels, eagles, small figures of mercury with his cadusis, birds, a classical vase, and flowers. The narrow borders which offset the central panel and the wide side borders are a complex design of floral and plant motifs and animals in chase. John Vandermersch was from a well known Dutch family and settled in England where he is listed as a member of the East India Company from 1748-52. George Ormerod was from an extended family of calico printers with roots in Lancashire and Mitcham, Surrey, and may have first settled in Wandsworth/Lambeth before moving to Wallington; he is listed in various records over time as a calico print cutter, a calico print drawer and a calico printer.