Monday, 10 April 2017

Signs of the spring

Watercolour study of a tulip, 1909, Winifred Mold. (SD26505)
This naturalistic study of a tulip forms part of the Silver Studio’s collection of Winifred Mold’s sketches and designs, for dress and interior fabrics between 1910 and 1940. 

Winifred Mold was one of a small number of female designers employed by the Silver Studio during that period. Many of her finished designs were worked up from such naturalistic studies:

Winifred Mold printed textile design 1927. (SD8824)

(For further information on Winifred Mold, please refer to:Protheroe, Keren. Bloom and Blotch: The Floral  Print and Modernity in the Textile  Designs of  Winifred Mold and Minnie McLeish 1910-1930 ,  unpublished PhD thesis, Kingston University,  2013.  Also: The Silver Studio and Women Designers - Keren Protheroe at MoDA).

Tulips figure as a popular flower throughout the history of Silver Studio design, often used as a highly stylized floral motif:

l-r:  Design in crayon  and charcoal c. 1895 (SD11198); The Tulip Garden Frieze, 1902 (SW649); Art Nouveau design, c. 1905 (SD26789); Design for a printed furnishing by Lewis Jones for the Silver Studio, 1932 (SD447). 

The flower’s perceived six petal symmetry makes it particularly useful for adaptation into many repetitive pattern design formats, and its elegant simplicity works well in popular ornate Art Nouveaux designs, as well as for pared down 1930s imagery.

The tulip itself gained legendary status as a commodity in Europe during the 17th century, when it was imported from Turkey to Holland. This formed the background of the popular novel  Tulip Fever (Deborah Moggach, London: Vintage Books, 1999) and is a featured subject of Anna Pavord’s study of the flower and its origins: The Tulip (London: Bloomsbury, 1999).

So, the growing and marketing of the cut flowers and bulbs has long been synonymous with Amsterdam, and the tulip has become a public park staple – an emblem marking the first bloom of spring for many European towns and cities. 

1 comment:

  1. These designs particularly highlight the capability of the tulip to achieve symmetry in a relaxed formation of pattern. Our brains are actually hardwired to appreciate this symmetry in design, so it's no wonder the floral pattern has come to take on such cultural meaning.