The Decorative Art Department Textile Design Panel Collection is part of the University Archives located at the Center for Lowell History. The provenance of the panels is tied to UMass Lowell's legacy institution, the Lowell Textile School (later the Lowell Textile Institute). The panels measure 15" x 19" and are contained in 24 boxes. These oversized reproductions derive from the Victorian-era masterwork on design The Grammar of Ornament but are not a comprehensive representation of the plates found in the original work. These prints are the work of the French Draughtsman Albert Charles Auguste Racinet (1825 – 1893) who exhibited at the Paris Salon from 1849 to 1874 and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in 1878 1. These reproductions are believed to have been used as a resource for design curriculum in the school's Decorative Art Department during the tenure of Vesper Lincoln George (1897 – 1905) who was described as "Principle" at the department's founding and "Professor" in subsequent years. While the Textile School taught the mechanics of the industry, the Decorative Arts Department addressed the aesthetics of fiber arts as well as design principles with broad applications, as indicated in this excerpt from its 1897 catalog:
"The close relation Decorative Art bears to the textile industry requires the organization of a Decorative Art Department. While it is the special object of the school to give instruction in this department of such a character as to develop a knowledge of the laws of decoration and theory of design as applied to textile fabrics of every kind, it is a fact that the fundamental instruction necessary for this is similar to that required for other branches of decorative art, so that students not necessarily intending to follow textile manufacturing are invited and may attend with advantage. Special arrangements have been made to form classes in freehand drawing and decoration, for the purpose of giving the students general instruction in the theory and practice of decorative art, the instruction afterwards to be devoted to the special branch the student desires to follow. The school will thus fulfill the object of preparing the student in practical designing in any of the branches of decorative art, with special regard to fabrics."
– Bulletin of the Lowell Textile School 1897-1901, Lowell Textile School, page 68.
1. Racinet, Albert Charles Auguste. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, [s. l.], 2011.