Toile de Jouy, commonly just called toile (pronounced twal), evolved from Jouy-en-Josas, France. The literal translation is "cloth from Jouy-en-Josas" - a town in north-central France. A print shop in this town was the first to commercially produce toile in the 1700s.
Originally these intricate designs were printed by transferring ink from wooden blocks onto Indian cotton. Later they refined the process by using a copper-plate roller with the design etched on it. Toile designs are usually associated with fabrics like curtains or upholstery. Toile wallpaper is also popular.
Fine lines in the designs often depict pastoral scenes, making it perfect complement for French country decor. Other common themes include oriental subjects, flowers, animals and children. The repeating pattern is traditionally printed in a single color, usually on a white or cream background. The effect of the fine lines on a pale background is light and airy.
Some contemporary designs encompass just about any subject and may use multiple colors on a colored background. The classic style with a modern twist creates an effect that is less formal that traditional toile.
From a distance the designs appear as a general background. But on close inspection, the engraved art print takes on interest, creating a timeless elegance with a romantic flair.