Ethel Wallace: A Forgotten History of Batik and Fashion

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Abstract

Ethel Wallace gained notoriety for batik textiles in the early twentieth century. Based on newly available primary sources from a private collector this article presents a more holistic summary of the accomplishments of this woman artist, with a particular focus on her textiles of the 1920s. Wallace’s batiks were exhibited widely, also used for fashion, and can be positioned with early twentieth century Modernism and the American Arts and Crafts movement. She was influenced by modernists, such as painter Joseph Stella and opera singer Eva Gauthier, the latter of whom embraced Orientalism in both design and performance. Wallace’s batik fabrics were positively reviewed in a wide variety of news media of the period, and progressive New Woman influencers such as Gertrude Whitney were among her clients. After she died in 1968, her accomplishments as a woman designer and maker were lost to the passage of time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-273
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Modern Craft
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Ethel Wallace
  • Eva Gauthier
  • Joseph Stella
  • New Woman
  • Orientalism
  • Paul Poiret
  • batik

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