In 1923, E. Irving Hanson (American, 1878–1955), vice president of the textile firm H.R. Mallinson & Company, made a visit to France. With a long-standing interest in art and design, his trip inspired a group of six textiles based on famous places in that country, using iconic churches and gardens as its theme. In Paris, the Sainte-Chapelle, a royal chapel in a gothic style, is most famous for its stained glass windows. These windows served as the inspiration for this printed silk and rayon velvet, which has repeating pointed oval windows set between vertical bands decorated with diamond shapes. A deeply-colored velvet, San Chapelle, le Premier, was made at a time when Mallinson was producing specialty textiles printed in eight to twelve colors, a high number for this period. As Mallinson did not begin producing pile fabrics until the 1920s, San Chapelle, le Premier is likely an early velvet made by the company. Its waled rayon pile also indicates Mallinson’s willingness to explore fibers other than silk. The French-inspired fabrics were produced for the Spring 1924 season, and an advertisement in the American Silk Journal showed all six designs in January 1924. This particular example likely was used as a table covering or piano shawl, with the ends hemmed and finished with purple glass beads.

E. Irving Hanson was hired by M.C. Migel in 1913 as their new general manager. He started his career as a stock boy for another American novelty silk manufacturer, Valentine & Bentley Silk Company. By 1915, M.C. Migel & Company was H.R. Mallinson & Company, and Hanson moved into the partnership spot vacated by J.A. Migel. Both H.R. Mallinson and Irving shared design ideas based on their travels, experiences and current events with their art department. These were some of the most successful lines produced by Mallinson and showed the firm’s ongoing commitment to novelty in American design.

See American Silk, 1830–1930: Entrepreneurs and Artifacts (2007) by Jacqueline Field, Marjorie Senechal and Madelyn Shaw for further information on the silk industry in the United States.

Kimberly Randall is the Collections Manager for the Textile Department.

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