The exotic printed cotton
From the end of the sixteenth century, audacious Portuguese, Dutch and British navigators imported the vivid coloured cottons to the old continent. In France, with the creation of the East India Trading Company in 1664, ambassadors began to exchange tales of exotic travel in Siam and other almost mythical countries, which increased the popularity of these "Indians".
Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the then Secretary of State for trade, began to worry that these imports were too competitive with nationally produced products. After his death his successor, Le Pelletier, in 1686 obtained an edict from Louis XIV prohibiting not only the importation of the fabrics but also the manufacturing of "Indians".
Oberkampfs success in Jouy-en-Josas
When the prohibition was lifted in 1759, France found it had accumulated a huge gap in terms of expertise, particularly compared to England. It was at that time that the young Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf moved to Jouy-en-Josas. The production of his fabrics began in 1760, quickly achieving success.
Prior to that the adoption of cotton by the nobility and bourgeoisie of Europe at that time had been a slow progression, for furniture, they would prefer linen, wool or silk until the hype and the exotic charm of printed cottons prevailed.
Several production centres for printed cottons coexisted in France during the eighteenth century, with the largest factories mainly based in Rouen, Nantes, Marseille or Mulhouse. The general term "Toile de Jouy" encompasses all of the production.
In 1783 Louis XVI bestowed Overkampfs' company with the title of "Royal Manufacturer". The company was at its peak and the most important producer in Europe when, in 1806, its prestige and reputation were made even larger by a visit from Napoleon I during which Oberkampf was decorated with the Legion of Honour. This was the crowning achievement of his career as a successful entrepreneur. He died at the same time as the Empire, in 1815, and was succeeded by his son, Emile. Emile made an association in October 1821 with Jacques Barbet-Juste, who became sole owner in 1823 and began calling himself "Barbet de Jouy" in order to differentiate himself from his brothers, themselves "Indian" manufacturers in Rouen.
Due to increasing competition in the sector they had to cease production and closed the doors in 1843.