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Salesman's Sample (France), 1775–1805

This is a Salesman's sample. It is dated 1775–1805 and we acquired it in 1932. Its medium is silk, net, glass, silver wire, paper and its technique is embroidered and appliqued on plain weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.

These embroidery samples haven been in their original paper enclosures for over 200 years, preserving their brilliant color and pristine condition. The samples likely represent designs for men’s coats although embroidery houses could produce designs on any fabric according to a client’s wishes. While consumers in Paris could visit the marchand-merciers (retailers) to see samples in person, these paper envelopes were highly portable, meaning selling agents could take orders from customers far removed from the city center. Paris was widely recognized as the capital of fashion, and this perception was due mainly to the large volume of high-quality textiles produced in Lyon specifically for the Paris trade. By the 18th century, the textile industry in Lyon employed thousands of men and women. Local government and business leaders recognized Lyon’s special place in the textile design and production—it was the first to introduce seasonal changes in silk design. With the goal of training the next generation of textile designers, in 1756 leaders proposed opening a free school for flower painting under the leadership of a flower specialist with some knowledge of fabric design. It was not until the end of the century that the school produced its finest graduate, the talented designer Jean François Bony (French, 1754–1825), whose influence here is evident.

It is credited Museum purchase from Au Panier Fleuri Fund.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 16.4 x 14.9 cm (6 7/16 x 5 7/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Salesman's Sample (France), 1775–1805; Previously owned by George Saville Seligman ; silk, net, glass, silver wire, paper; H x W: 16.4 x 14.9 cm (6 7/16 x 5 7/8 in.); Museum purchase from Au Panier Fleuri Fund; 1932-1-54

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Embroidered and Embellished.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Salesman's Sample (France), 1775–1805 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 January 2020 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>