Persian blue, pomegranate flower, spiny lobster, wine soup, pale flesh, dove breast, golden wax, grass green, green sand, rotten olive, modest plum, agate, rich French gray, gunpowder of the English……..just some of the colour names of old fabric to fire the imagination. Memoirs on Dyeing concerns a unique manuscript from the eighteenth century; a dyers memoirs from Languedoc, containing recipes for dyes with corresponding colour samples. It is an exceptional document, hugely rare and of great significance not only to textile historians but dyers and colourists today, as thanks to the information in the manuscript the colours can be reproduced exactly, with the same ingredients, or reproduced using modern techniques by matching the colour samples. To the English translation of the text, together with facsimile pages reproduced in colour from the original manuscript, are added essays meant to situate it in its historical, economic and technological contexts. For those historians who have long been fascinated by the change in scale and the amount of innovation that occurred in woollen cloth production in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Memoirs on Dyeing bring first-hand insight into the daily preoccupations and tasks of a key actor in the success story of the Languedocian broadcloth production specially devised for export to the Levant. Even non-specialists may be interested in understanding the clever management and technical organisation that made it possible for the author to produce, dye, finish, pack and export up to 1,375 pieces of superfine broadcloth per year, representing nearly 51 km of cloth.
Reviews & Quotes
"“This is no less than a totally absorbing and fascinating treasure trove for keen natural dyers.”"
The Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers ()