William Kilburn

William Kilburn

Flourishing Flora

The eternal appeal of a classic floral design is captured in the work of Irish illustrator William Kilburn (1745–1818). The artist behind William Curtis’ Flora Londinensis, a comprehensive book on 18th-century English botany, Kilburn was also a leading designer and printer of calico. With winding twigs, colourful petals and undulating seaweed, Kilburn’s unique ability to blend local flora with exotic plants is on full display in this design. This characteristic sense of creative freedom was so sought after that by the late 1700s his style was widely imitated. To protect his signature patterns, Kilburn became an activist for artists’ rights, fighting in court to defend copyright in the textile industry.

Sadly, Kilburn was unsuccessful in stopping his designs from being copied, and he died bankrupt in 1818. It is our honour to bring an original William Kilburn print back to life here. His name may not be familiar, but we see Kilburn’s influence in the work of textile artists like William Morris who have followed in his footsteps, and in the copyright laws that protect artists today.

For fans of: William Kilburn, textiles, decorative arts, William Morris, Nature Montages, Still Life Burst, Olena’s Garden