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Portrait of a Woman in SilkHidden Histories of the British Atlantic World$
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Zara Anishanslin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300197051

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300197051.001.0001

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“An English and Even a Female Hand”

“An English and Even a Female Hand”

Anglo-French Rivalry and the Gendered Politics of Flowered Silk

(p.64) 3. “An English and Even a Female Hand”
Portrait of a Woman in Silk

Zara Anishanslin

Yale University Press

This chapter explores Anna Maria Garthwaite from a more purely gendered perspective, by dissecting her identity as a female silk designer. Garthwaite is worth attention for her talents alone, and because she was one of the few female silk designers in the eighteenth century. But she merits historical analysis for what she produced as well as who she was and how well she did it. Her story elucidates the importance of gender and aesthetics in imperial rivalries between Britain and France. Her work provides a window into understanding why—beyond economics—the silk industry was a bone of such contention between the two powers, and why the Spitalfields silk industry had the political and symbolic importance it did in the British Empire. Her townhouse in Spitalfields, where she lived, designed her patterns, and conducted her trade, is an appropriate place to begin.

Keywords:   Anna Maria Garthwaite, townhouse, Spitalfields, silk designers, businesswomen, gender, aesthetics, Britain, France, silk industry

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