There was something missing in the lives of those enamored with the Victorian style of 1870-1890 homes–a lace curtain pattern that truly incorporated their beloved Eastlake motifs. It seemed that all of the other panels available had roses, cherubs or swags, while no one wanted to weave a panel that featured the robust yet simple designs made popular by the Englishman Charles Locke Eastlake in his bestselling book Hints on Household Taste, which became the bible of latter-19th-century interior design. Purists and aficionados were forced to compromise when trying to re-create accurate design schemes, as their choices were limited to lace curtains that never really reflected the exuberance of late Victorian style.
Having observed this void in the decorative timeline, Cooper’s Cottage Lace of Amherst, Massachusetts, the firm that had risen to prominence by weaving cotton Arts & Crafts lace curtains designed by the leading contemporary artisans of the Craftsman Movement, set about searching for an appropriate pattern.”The 1870s and 1880s were a time of great transition in decorative arts and architecture,” notes Dan Cooper, president of Cooper’s Cottage Lace. “The Renaissance and Rococo Revival influences were waning, and at the same time you had this renewed interest in Medievalism and Gothicism, which became known as the English Arts & Crafts Movement as promoted by William Morris. In America, it was also referred to as the Eastlake style. Regardless as which gentleman you choose as catalyst, decoration became more shallow and angular, eschewing the Classicism found just a few years earlier.”
Furthering this stylistic sea change, the Aesthetic Movement became wildly popular, incorporating motifs from Far and Middle Asia, notably with Japanese and Persian designs. “It was not uncommon to see several influences on a given piece of furniture or other decorative objects, with no accounting for historic accuracy,” Cooper chuckles. “I’ve seen tea boxes with Japanese, Chinese and Anglo designs, all gleefully blended into a weird but delightful pastiche.”
Today, the Eastlake and Anglo-Japanese styles are worshiped by a unique group of enthusiastic collectors, including Cooper. When searching for an artist to create an Eastlake lace pattern, he went immediately to the legendary Steve Bauer of Bradbury & Bradbury wallpapers, the man and the company who brought Eastlake and Aesthetic movement wall-covering patterns into so many of today’s grand Victorian homes.
To learn more about Cooper’s Cottage Lace and how to use it to add Victorian style to your home, keep reading our upcoming posts.
by Benjamin Waugh