This fabric is a brocaded silk and was intended for ladies' gowns. The technique of brocading allowed different colours to be introduced into the pattern of a fabric in specific, sometimes very small areas. It was a more laborious process for the weaver than using patterning wefts running from selvedge to selvedge, but the resulting effect could be much more varied and lively.
Materials & Making
An extra finishing technique has been used on this silk. Watering is a process by which irregular wavy lines are produced on the surface of a textile after weaving either by folding it, or winding it on to an engraved roller, and then subjecting it to heavy pressure. The textile must be woven with a pronounced rib, and as this is crushed in irregular directions the light is reflected as if from the moving surface of water, although no water is actually involved in the process.
John Sabatier, the Spitalfields master weaver for whom Anna Maria Garthwaite designed for this silk, was from a Huguenot family who probably originally came from Lyon, France. In 1716 he had been apprenticed to his father, also called John, who lived and worked in Spitalfields but was still then described as a 'foreign weaver'. The younger John went on to become one of the most important figures in the English silk industry.