Object Timeline

1959

  • Work on this object began.

1973

  • We acquired this object.

2001

2013

2014

2015

2018

  • You found it!

Textile, Primavera

This is a Textile. It was designed by Don Wight. We acquired it in 1973. Its medium is cotton and its technique is hand screen printed on supplementary warp pile (velvet). It is a part of the Textiles department.


The intricate floral pattern for Primavera, inspired by the paintings of Gustav Klimt, took Jack Lenor Larsen and freelance artist Don Wight more than a year to perfect. With its exuberant clusters of small flower heads, shadowy leaves, and pulsing biomorphic shapes, all scattered freely against a ground of wavy stripes – the pattern had to be printed on a fabric that would show it to best advantage.
Sensuous velvet was the ideal medium for Primavera’s intoxicating design. But in the late 1950s, it was almost impossible to screen print complex patterns on traditional velvets, as the dye could not penetrate the thick pile. After extensive experimentation, Larsen’s studio successfully wove a cotton velvet, luxurious to the touch, with pile low enough to hand screen print with no loss of color intensity, a first in the American textile industry. In fact, in its day, Primavera was the most successful printed velvet in the industry. Today it remains an icon of the period.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled The Effulgence of Country Gardens.

Cite this object as

Textile, Primavera; Designed by Don Wight (American, 1924–1999); USA; cotton; 1973-54-2

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18481931/ |title=Textile, Primavera |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=9 December 2018 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>