Krapp, "cucumber" and agittextile: we consider old fabrics in Kolomenskoye

June 6

In the Kolomenskoye museum-reserve, the exhibition ‘Chintz. Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’ was opened.  Samples of old printed fabrics and authentic items from legendary factories of the past were provided by several museums. About some exhibits on request the curator of the exhibition Natalia Polonnikova tells.

The birthplace of cotton production is China and India. An important turn in the history of cotton weaving was made in 1764, when the spinning machine was invented in England. Initially, Russia bought English fabrics, but gradually began its own production. In 1822, a decree was issued: "To prohibit the import of printed fabrics to Russia, to provide all sorts of privileges to the factories founder producing printed fabrics." Soon the names of the manufacturers, the Rubachevs, Garelins, Prokhorovs, Baranovs, and Burylins, who made a fortune in chintz, began to resound through the country.

Baranovsky chintz

One of the most famous factories of the XIX century was Baranovskaya factory. In 1835, Fyodor Baranov founded the cotton manufactory in the Alexandrovskaya Sloboda on the basis of the canvas production of his father. Later the business was continued by his descendants. His son Ivan began to sell goods abroad, and grandsons Alexander and Assaf equipped the manufactory at a state-of-the-art level. Fabrics received awards at the World Exhibitions in Moscow (1865), Paris (1867), and Vienna (1873).

In 1875, Asaf Baranov built a textile factory at his own expense. Being not only a visionary entrepreneur, but also a talented chemical engineer, he managed to reach heights. His fabrics were in great demand both at home and abroad, and there were legends about him: "Be healthy, cheerful and rich, like Asaf Baranov," Anton Chekhov wished his friend Fyodor Schechtel in 1892.

The exhibition in Kolomenskoye recreated the office of the legendary manufacturer: the original desk at which Asaf Baranov worked, the reports, books, table abacus and albums with samples of chintz made for exhibitions in Nizhny Novgorod (1896) and Paris (1889).

The Paris exhibition brought Baranov recognition in Europe. The Currant Leaf fabric presented by his manufactory won the Grand Prix and the gold medal for ‘the uniqueness of the colors and the sophistication of the pattern’. The jury was delighted: the Russian masters managed to convey the feeling of a feast, a bright summer day. The fabric was desired to be purchased by representatives of a number of European companies. Currant Leaf is among the exhibits - a fabric from the same exhibition in Paris, draped over a mannequin of the XIX century, adorns one of the halls.

Фото М. Денисова.

Red means beautiful

The last bell rang

Of finished Mass;

The people on the porch,

Red and motley calico;

The sunbeam bright and sharp

It blinds your eyes and burns.

This is the beginning of Valery Bryusov's poem "A Holiday in the Village" (1916). Kumach, or bright red calico, was very popular in the XIX and early XX centuries among the common people. Plain and covered with a printed pattern, it looked festively. You can judge about the variety of red fabrics by the assortment of a typical manufactory shop of the late XIX - early XX century recreated at the exhibition. Fabrics samples wrapped around red rectangular shapes are stacked. Next to it - an old pair of scissors: the cheerful salesmen used similar scissors to cut off the chintz for the buyer.

In the XVIII and the first half of the XIX century, to dye the fabric in a bright shade of scarlet, krapp was used - an expensive substance that was extracted from the root of dyer's-madder. It was necessary to tinker with krapp for a while: in order the fabric painted not fade, it had to be fixed. Russian dyers used an old-fashioned method, which today may seem creepy -they soaked the fabric in a mixture of animal-waste slurry and bull's blood.

The real revolution was made by Ivan Baranov. He tried to dye fabrics using his own madder grown in Derbent, and replaced the bull's blood with bread vinegar. The shade that Baranov received did not fade, it was very rich. In the XIX century, the red Baranovsky scarf with floral ornaments was a dream gift for women of different classes.

Samples of folk costume, sewn completely or fragmentally from calico, not only shawls, but also sundresses, shirts, aprons, headscarves, skirts, dresses and even kholodayki, are presented at the exhibition. The geography of their use can be easily traced by the characteristic details of the particular province costume: Ryazan, Vologda, Kursk, Perm, Arkhangelsk, Voronezh, and others.

Фото М. Денисова.

Patterns - from ‘cucumbers’ to tractors

The word ‘sitets’ (chintz) came to Russian from German. The German word ‘zitz’, in its turn, is derived from the Dutch ‘sits’, which goes back to the Sanskrit word ‘sitras’, meaning motley. Chintz has always been patterned, fun. Firstly, Russian factories used drawings of foreign artists, but by the twentieth century they began to create their own ones.

A special pride of the exhibition are croquis (with an accent on the last syllable - ‘sketches’ from French), drawings that depict a repeating element of the pattern. Among the exhibits there are also croquis purchased abroad and created by domestic craftsmen. It is difficult for a simple viewer, not an expert in the history of decorative and applied art, to determine at least the approximate year of creation of a particular drawing. Many of them, at first glance modern, were created at the beginning of the XIX century.

Фото М. Денисова.

By the way, patterns for calico were created not only by specialists in fabrics, but also by famous painters. Among them are Boris Kustodiev, Konstantin Korovin, Valentin Serov, and Philip Malyavin. The latter was very fond of blue or red cotton chintzes with a small floral pattern, which were very popular at that time in villages.

One of the oldest examples of chintz presented in the Kolomenskoye is Neptune made in 1820 at the Ivanovo manufactory of Yakov Garelin. The design of Russian chintz was influenced by samples from other cultures, our masters were very fond of the heroes of foreign myths and legends. So the ancient Roman god of the seas and streams got on this Ivanovo chintz. The exhibit came to the exhibition from the funds of the Museum of Ivanovo Chintz. This is the first exhibition in a long time in which it participates - before that, Neptune had never left Ivanovo.

Фото М. Денисова.

There are a lot of samples of fabric with the famous "cucumber" pattern at the exhibition. It is also called Turkish Bean and Almond. Historians often argue about where its homeland is. According to one version, this is Russia: here, these fabrics were found in the XVII century, and on the territory of Europe and Asia appeared only in the XVIII. ‘Cucumber’ fabrics were produced in large quantities mainly for the eastern market - among other things, they liked to sew dressing gowns from them.

Фото М. Денисова.

In the 1920s and 1930s, floral and abstract patterns on chintz were replaced by a print in the form of a hammer and sickle, a five-pointed star, ears of corn and agricultural machinery. Propaganda textiles, which retained all the achievements of the previous century, contributed to the introduction of a new ideology into the consciousness of the Soviet people.

For example, the decorative sateen Tractor (1925) is dedicated to the development of collectivization. This is a very rare drawing. It was produced only at one factory - in the Ivanovo-Voznesensky State Textile Trust. Samples of other fabrics of this factory with a pattern in the form of airplanes, gears, and sailboats are also presented at the exhibition.

Фото М. Денисова.

Throughout the Soviet period, chintz remained one of the most popular and affordable fabrics. The principles of folk costume were used by artists and fashion designers of the All-Union Fashion House. In 1957, for the VI International Festival of Youth and Students, Moscow artists developed a series of costumes made of printed calico and staple, which enjoyed great success. And in the second half of the 1960s, the couturier Vyacheslav Zaitsev fashion shows made Russian chintz famous in the United States, Canada, Japan and other countries. Zaitsev's models from the collection from the Museum of Ivanovo Chintz are also presented at the exhibition.


From woodblock to calendar

The methods of pattern application on the fabric gradually changed. For a long time, the patterns were printed with woodblock and a wooden mallet (chokmar’). The master applied paint to the front part of the woodblock, applied it to the canvas and tapped it with a chokmar’. Working on a multi-color drawing, several woodblocks were used.

Фото М. Денисова.

At the end of the XIX century, they began to use special calendars with a pattern applied on them. If several elements had to be applied to the fabric, it was passed through different calendars: initially one type of pattern was applied, then a second, a third, and so on. At the exhibition in Kolomenskoye you can see the calendars that were used in Russian and English factories in the late XIX - early XX century.

Фото М. Денисова.


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