Toile de Jouy- refers to toiles usually made in cotton and printed at the Oberkampf factory in Jouy-en- Josas (Yvelines in northern France) between 1760 and 1843. At this period in France hundreds of other factories produced printed fabrics but Jouy became one of the most famous, partly because of its ideal location between Versailles and Paris and its proximity to the Royal court. Nantes was also a big centre profiting from maritime trade.
The origins of toile
In the late 16th century when Indian chintzes were introduced to France, they displayed vibrant colours and used different techniques like painting and block printing to create designs. They became popular because they were lightweight and the colours resisted to washing.
Printing was done with wooden carved blocs ( later on with copper plates). These were applied to prepared cotton as the blocks were coated with dyes. The quality of the toiles comes partly from the use of very fine cotton threads and mechanically woven toiles.
Toiles are characterised by a repeating pattern of scenes or landscape, pastoral, mythical or allegorical with motifs borrowed from Antiquity. Engravings of the time were interpreted and used as inspiration too. Toiles are still popular today and many designers create them for their collections, reinterpreting traditional motifs or completely transforming the design vocabulary.
Very quickly there was a hierarchy of workers.
The most important being the "dessinateur" (draftsman) et the "graveur" (engraver), the colourists (in charge of mordants and baths) , the printers and the "pinceauteuse" (in charge of adding little hand painted motifs and the "picoteuses"(in charge of creating the more repetitive backgrounds often little dots).
Today toile is used sparingly but in the 18th c, everything was covered in toile from walls to ceilings, to furniture, accessories and beds. It was partly to keep warmth in a room and partly aesthetic. It really creates an air of romanticism and its why it is still popular and collectable today.