Toile was a great medium for storytelling, and the fabrics depicted a wide array of themes and tales, ranging from representations of texts like La Fontaine's fables to depictions of Chinese life, as imagined by the French (chinoiserie was another eighteenth-century fad). Pastoral themes were among the most common, fitting in with the claims of Enlightenment thinkers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau who idealized country life and argued that it was purer and more wholesome. This fascination even spread to the court, and Marie-Antoinette was known to be taken both with rural life and with the Jouy textiles that depicted it.
While the process of making toiles is less laborious today (and thankfully skips the step of soaking them in a mixture of cow dung and water to remove excess color), they remain popular, versatile fabrics. Simultaneously elegant and casual, they fit well with a variety of decor styles, from traditional French countryside to eclectic, funky, and modern (as in Image 6). A number of artists have even made use of toile's storytelling capabilities to make cultural critiques or to subtly incorporate new, modern, or fantastic imagined scenes (Image 7).
For more in-depth information about toile, check out:
• Toile: Explained and Explored
• Classic Wallpaper Pattern: Toiles de Jouy
• Toile de Jouy in 3D! Folly by Beth Katleman
• Toile Goes Street: Brookly Toile Wallpaper by Beastie Boy Mike D
• "Historically Inaccurate" Toile by Richard Saja