Design for a printed cotton, 1788-92

One of the V&A’s most treasured possessions is the unique album of 223 exquisite watercolour textile designs by William Kilburn (1745–1818), the best and most famous designer of printed cottons in the 18th century. Characterised by fine details and rich yet subtle colours, Kilburn’s patterns were described as "perhaps the nearest approaches to nature in drawing" and bear testament to his apprenticeship as a botanical artist, before he turned to a more lucrative career in the textile industry. Admired and imitated by his fellow designers, Kilburn created fantastic and pleasing patterns that never failed in quality and originality.

William Kilburn

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