William Kilburn (1745-1818) and Artists’ Copyright

Above: One of my watercolors, inspired by Kilburn

William Kilburn was a watercolor artist, engraver, and textile designer in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His sumptuous floral designs can be viewed on-line courtesy of the V & A museum: 

Kilburn was one of the first artists to fight for copyright for his original designs, which were being knocked-off in rival textile factories in as little as 10-days! Kilburn’s 1797 testimony before the House of Commons led to the passage, in 1798, of one of the earliest copyright acts for printed cotton designs: 

I read a brief biography of Kilburn for the 64th  volume of the LibriVox Short Nonfiction Collection.
Listen to my recording here.
Read the text online here.

Some of the things that fascinated me about Kilburn were his use of striking black and khaki backgrounds, and unusual pairings of seaweed and flowers in his designs.


You might like:

Cochineal Red

Lichen DyesWatercolor paintings of cochineal, 1775



Nettles as a Textile Fiber

photo of nettle flowers