Sophia L. Crownfield Textile Design Collection
Scope and Contents
Approximately 1218 drawings of plant and floral subjects in various media, including pencil, ink, watercolor, created by Sophia L. Crownfield. The drawings were studies in different stages of development toward designs for textile patterns, to be produced in silk for the woman’s dress-silk trade. Some examples of silk textiles that were the result of the drawings are included. Some paintings in oil are included, which seem to be much earlier pieces, though they are not dated.
The drawings are mainly on paper, which ranges from tissue to tracing papers as well as bristol board and other medium to heavy papers. The drawings are housed in brown paper folders with 1-6 items, with the majority of folders holding 2-4 items. The folders are uniform in size, approx. 23 x 29 inches. Many of the papers are glued to the folders.
Dimensions were measured for the largest item in each folder. The majority of the measured items (394) are 20-29 inches by 12-24 inches; 2 items are larger. 15 items are 30-38 inches x 17-26 inches. 18 items are 19 x 14 inches or smaller.
47 folders include color printed silk fabric samples.
The most numerous subjects are Rose (29 folders), Poppy (26), Lily (22), Iris (17), and Peony (15). Dogwood, Dahlia, Azalea, Thistle, Hollyhock, Maple, Oak, Pussy Willow, Wild Carrot, Trumpet Vine, Nasturtium, Tulip, Orchid, Poinsettia, Sweet Sultan, and Wisteria are also included, and others.
Most of the drawings appear to be done from observation in a linear realistic style with emphasis on the structure of the plants. Some of the studies, particularly those in color, emphasize the volume of the subject. About 16 items that are more abstract have been designated as “conventional” or “conventionalized” by the donor; a few are noted as “handsome.”
Many of the pieces have a signature “S.L. Crownfield,” though this is thought to be not Sophie Crownfield’s own signature, but added by the donor.
Decker Library staff added to this collection a magazine advertisement for Cheney Silks, dated 1918, which shows a woman in a floral patterned dress that seems to exemplify the use for which Sophie Crownfield’s textile designs were destined.
- [ca. 1890-1925]
Conditions Governing Access
No restrictions. Request access at the Information Desk of the Decker Library between 12-6 p.m. on Saturday - Thursday and 12-4:30 p.m. on Friday, or email email@example.com to make an appointment.
Biographical / Historical
Sophia Louise Crownfield was born on March 18, 1862 in Baltimore, Maryland to parents Herman F. and Sophia H. (Ring) Crownfield. She may have received some art training while in Baltimore, because she was listed as “china painter” in a Baltimore City Directory for 1889. Around 1889 she moved to New York City, where she undertook additional training at the Art Students League.
Crownfield began working as a designer for the textile industry, creating many floral-based patterns for the women’s dress silk trade. One consistent employer was the Cheney Silk Company of Connecticut. Crownfield patented some of her designs in the period of 1905-1916.
Crownfield died on February 10, 1929, age 67, at which time her home was 133 West 12th Street in New York.
1218 items (8 boxes)
Language of Materials
Drawings of floral subjects in various media, including pencil, ink, watercolor, created by Sophia L. Crownfield. Some paintings in oil are included. The drawings were studies in different stages of development toward designs for textile patterns, to be produced in silk for the woman’s dress-silk trade. Some examples of silk textiles that were the result of the drawings are included.
The folders were assembled by the donor of the collection, and are labelled with the plant or flower name that predominates in that folder. The folders have been numbered.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Gertrude Crownfield, 1941.
- Sophia L. Crownfield Textile Design Collection
- In Progress
- Katherine Cowan and Marianne Yang
- December 2013-July 2015
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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