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Materials and Expertise in Early Modern EuropeBetween Market and Laboratory$
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Ursula Klein Klein and E. C. Spary

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226439686

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226439709.001.0001

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Between Craft Routines and Academic Rules: Natural Dyestuffs and the “Art” of Dyeing in the Eighteenth Century

Between Craft Routines and Academic Rules: Natural Dyestuffs and the “Art” of Dyeing in the Eighteenth Century

Chapter:
(p.321) 12 Between Craft Routines and Academic Rules: Natural Dyestuffs and the “Art” of Dyeing in the Eighteenth Century
Source:
Materials and Expertise in Early Modern Europe
Author(s):

Agusí Nieto-Galan

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226439709.003.0012

During the eighteenth century, natural dyestuffs derived mainly from animal and vegetable sources were applied to a wide range of surfaces. Dyeing processes required materials such as gums, astringents, acids, alkalis, bleaching liquors, and metallic salts (mordants). The sources of colors, between indigenous dyes and exotic plants from the colonies, were often controversial. This article examines the manufacture and quality control of natural dyestuffs in the Manufacture royale des Gobelins in France to highlight a complex system of material production, social cooperation, and expertise in the eighteenth century. This system included the Gobelins laboratory, workshops of the manufactory (manufacture), and a dyeing school which taught students about dyestuffs and methods of bleaching. The quality tests for dyestuffs played a key role in the rationalization of the art of dyeing. This article shows how the Gobelins laboratory acted as a critical intermediate space between academia and the workshop.

Keywords:   natural dyestuffs, France, dyeing, quality control, Manufacture royale des Gobelins, material production, social cooperation, expertise, academia

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