Bedcover

Made by John Hewson, American, 1745 - 1821

Geography:
Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America

Date:
c. 1790-1810

Medium:
Block print on plain weave cotton

Dimensions:
8 feet 6 3/4 inches x 8 feet 8 3/4 inches (261 x 266.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1930-100-1

Credit Line:
Gift of Joseph B. Hodgson, Jr., 1930

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Label:
This bedcover, which Hewson produced at his factory in the Kensington area of Philadelphia, is considered the finest example of early American block printing. Elaborately patterned with drapery swags, floral borders, and a center square with a flower-filled urn flanked by butterflies and birds, the bedcover compares stylistically with the palampores printed in India during this period for the European market. The individual designs were most likely copied from pattern books and engravings. For example, the subject and arrangement of the central motifs may derive from Dutch flower-piece prints from the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, while the smaller images, such as the bird on a sprig, may refer to printed needlework designs.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    John Hewson, the most renowned eighteenth-century American calico printer, worked in Philadelphia from 1774 to 1810 after emigrating from England, where he had been employed at Bromley Hall, one of the leading textile printworks. This bedcover, which Hewson produced at his factory in the Kensington area of Philadelphia, is considered the finest example of early American block printing. One of only three known versions of the bedcover (one is in the Henry du Pont Winterthur Museum and the other in a private collection), it belonged to Hewson himself. Elaborately patterned with drapery swags, floral borders, and a center square with a flower-filled urn flanked by butterflies and birds, the bedcover compares stylistically with the palampores printed in India during this period for the European market. The individual designs were most likely copied from pattern books and engravings. For example, the subject and arrangement of the central motifs may derive from Dutch flower-piece prints from the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, while the smaller images, such as the bird on a sprig, may refer to printed needlework designs. Dilys Blum, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 86.