Flowers have always had meaning within art. Though the craze for flower language in England did not start until the nineteenth century, the choice of flowers within this textile is quite deliberate as it combines flowers native to both Britain and the Americas in ways that they would not appear in nature. While a designer cannot be identified for this pattern, it is most likely that he or she knew the meanings of these flowers when combining them. What is especially interesting about the flowers on this textile is that depending on how you read it, the textile can have two very different meanings.

                This double meaning is most heavily implied by the inclusion of the nasturtium, which means patriotism. Since it is quite possible that this textile was meant for export to America, the meaning of patriotism could be a double-edged sword; it could imply either British or American patriotism. The other flowers included also add to this double meaning. For a positive, pro-America meaning, the passion flower, which means faith, along with the daffodil, meaning new beginnings, combines with the nasturtium to create a message of hope for the new nation and faith in its future.

                For the British meaning, one has the buttercup, which means ingratitude and childishness, convolvulus major, or morning glory, meaning extinguished hopes, and the pea plat, a symbol of departure. These combine with the nasturtium to say that America is being ungrateful for all that Britain has done for it by leaving. Whichever meaning the viewer chooses to see, they both relate to the loss of America as a British colony, something that had happened only recently at the time of the textile's creation.

Audrey Sutton is a graduate student at the Cooper-Hewitt/Parsons the New School for Design Masters in Decorative Arts and Design Program. She graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in Apparel Design.           

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