Textile: Les Coquecigrues. Designer unknown, manufactured by Oberkampf & Cie. ca. 1792. Gift of Josephine Howell.

Flights of Fancy

Les coquecigrues” features in several French expressions, such as “á la venue des coqucigrues,” which has the meaning and something of the feeling of “when pigs fly.” But this enchanting fabric suggests another expression, “regarder voler les coquecigrues,” or watching the coquecigrues fly. Coquecigrues are fantastical imaginary creatures, so watching them fly would have to be considered the worst kind of wool-gathering… daydreaming… allowing oneself to be seduced by things that do not exist.
First produced around 1792 by Oberkampf et Cie. at Jouy-en-Josas, the design was popular enough to be still in production in 1818, when a white-ground version was used to decorate the bedroom of Oberkampf’s daughter Emilie, then Mme. Jules Mallet. While Oberkampf had become famous for the engraved copper plate prints now commonly called toiles de Jouy -- large-scale monochrome prints of pastoral scenes-- the company continued to produce very high-quality wood block prints in a dazzling number of colors, inspired by their Indian predecessors, hand-painted chintz.

Museum Number: 
1973-51-137