Collecting Plants, Collecting Textiles

Collecting Plants, Collecting Textiles

This image suggests that pattern collecting such as Owen Jones’s (and he was not alone in collecting ornament) are at the heart of nineteenth century cultures of collection and display. It juxtaposes a South Asian textile from the archive at the V&A with an early nineteenth century botanical drawing of an Indian ‘lotus’, from the Fleming Collection in the Botany Library at the Natural History Museum.

From the mid eighteenth century onwards collections of all sorts of material objects were formed: collections of fossils, shells, preserved animals and anatomical specimens, insects, plants – all manner of things - including ornamental motifs. To identify, classify and display a collection was a way of gaining knowledge of its contents. This in turn could translate into the economic exploitation of such items, and so into wealth and ultimately, power.