ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History   /   CIETA Embroidery Newsletters

Newsletter - of the CIETA Embroidery Group
Bulletin d’Information de Groupe Broderie de CIETA

No 6
October 1997

Dear members, St Gallen, 20 October 1997
the conference in Cambridge was very informative. A whole section was dedicated to "Opus Anglicanum", other papers also dealt with embroidery. In this letter you will find the abstracts of embroidery lectures.
The meeting of the embroidery group was also interesting. Photographs with church embroideries were discussed: a chasuable of Mexico (K.Stolleis), a reversable chasuble (Ch. Aribaud), 3 pannels of silk 1770 (S.Major), a wall hanging of 1600 probably Swiss (A.Zrebiec), an altarfrontal (E.Janssen), robes of the Virgin Mary (M. Paredis), and some more. A slide projector would be very useful to discuss the objects.

The question arose about an embroidery vocabulary. Would it be an idea to take an already existing one as a basis? How should one proceed?
10 new members joined the group. I would like to invite them very cordially to contribute and to send to me information as the members of the last years have done so helpfully.
I also want to thank Prof. Dr. Ruth Bleckwenn for her contribution in this letter. She has been travelling a lot, to study the textiles in Dresden, in St.Gallen and elswhere. Yours

Anne Wanner-JeanRichard
Textilmuseum / Vadianstrasse 2
CH-9000 St Gallen / Switzerland

General information:
No 6 / Oct.1997/ 2

General information:
Lecture of embroidery group member
Daniele Veron-Denise, conservateur musee national du chÔteau de Fontainebleau
25,26,27th September 1997 XVES rencontres de l’ecole du Louvre: Henri II et les arts
Un brodeur de Henri II: Robert Mestays

Exhibition of Cieta member Noemi Speiser, Basle, Switzerland
24th oct - 23th nov 1997 Galerie 50, Verena Erny, Dorfplatz, CH-4467 Rothenfluh BL
retrospective Noemi Speiser
embroideries, tapestries, application works and plaitings
Information: tel +41 61 991 0546
open: Friday 15-19, Saturday 14-17, Sunday 10-12, 14-17

12th - 14th november 1997 Cholet (F) Musee du textile
Rue du Dr.Roux, F-493000Cholet
colloque international: Le mouchoir dans tous ses etats
Information: tel: +33 241 752540 fax:+33 241 752549

27th sept - 23rd nov 1997 Rosgartenmuseum Konstanz,
curator Elisabeth von Gleichenstein
Rosgartenstrasse 3-4, D - 78459
stitch by stitch, through five centures, textile treasures
exhibition and catalogue (DM 20)
Tel: 07 531 900 246, Fax: 07531 900 608
open: Tuesday-Saturday 10.00 - 17.00, Fri-Sun10 - 16
closed Mondays, 3 of october and 1st of november

Program with the exhibition:
Museumtalk: Thursday, Nov 13th: Corina Herzberg-Rebel, Textile restorer talks on specialities like keeping and restoring of historic textiles.
Course for adults: Sabine Togny teaches Hardanger Embroidery and other stitiching techniques, 5 times 17 - 18 in the second part of october. Information at the Museum.

part of men'a waistcoat, end of 18th c.

part of linen embroidery, dat. 1592

Summaries of papers:
Assembly of Cieta, Cambridge 1997
No 6 / Oct. 1997, 3-7

Leonie von Wilckens, Munich, Germany
The Imperial mantle of Otto IV in Brunswick

The day before his death in 1218 the German emperor Otto IV asked his brother to give his mantle to the convent of St.Giles, in Brunswick. Otto, son of Henry the Lion and Matilda, an English princess, had grown up in England. His mantle is of red silk embroidered with gold and silk threads. Stars, moons and leopards from the English royal arms, accompany the imperial eagles in the centre. In front are medallions with Christ and the Virgin. These figures distinguish this mantle from a similar mantle once in Angers cathedral, but link it with the earlier imperial mantles, that now in Vienna, made in 1133/34, and the fragments found in the tomb of Philip of Swabia. In addition, the stars and the moons connect the Brunswick mantle with the starmantle in Bamberg, from the early 11th century, that stands in a very old tradition of starmantles, going back to the ancient Near-East.

Alice Zrebiec, Santa Fe, U.S.A.
An opus anglicanum chasuble rediscovere

Published by de Farcy and exhibited at the Franco-British Exhibition of Textiles in 1921, this embroidered chasuble subsequently made its way into a private American collection and thence to the J.B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. It will join other vestments, textiles, and tapestries on view in new galleries beginning this november.
This paper addresses the provenance ot the piece, its imagery and technique related examples, and the various ways the chasuble has been assembled.

Inger Estham, Uppsala, Sweden
An opus anglicanum embroidery in Sweden

An opus anglicanum embroidery which can be dated to about the middle of the 15th century was recently given by a private donor to the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. The embroidery shows Christ, the Virgin and one of the apostles.

Kay Staniland, London, Great Britain
Vestments for William of Wykeham (1324-1404)

Some of the finest examples of 13th and 14th century embroideries are ascribed to professional London workshops and yet nothing is known about the organisation of such premises or the conditions under which the embroideries were created. Similarities with important examples of manuscript illuminations suggest the involvement of professional artists. This paper outlines evidence available about the working of secular embroidery in London, and introduces newly discovered documentary information about a team of craftspeople brought together to create vestments for William of Wykeham, bishop of Winchester and chancellor of England.

Rosa MartÝn i Ros, Barcelona, Spain
Liturgical vestments in opus anglicanum preserved in Spain

Five liturgical vestments in opus anglicanum are preserved in Spain: the Mitre of Archbishop Bernat d’Olivella (Museu DiocesÓ, Tarragona), the Daroca Cope (Museo Arqueolˇgico Nacional, Madrid), the Cope of Cardinal Gil de Albornoz (Tesora de la Catedral, Toledo), the Cope of Bishop Bellera (Museu Episcopal, Vic) and the Chasuble from the vestments associated with St Vincent (Museu Textil i d’IndumentÓria, Barcelona). The five pieces illustrate the technique of English embroidery in the Middle Ages and its stylistic development from the 13th century to the second half of the 14th century. The five vestments are, moreover, characteristic examples of the iconography of opus anglicanum: the martyrdom of saints, the Creation, the exaltation of the Church in the person of the Virgin, the saint martyrs and the Tree of Jesse.

English Medieval Cope, embroidery in the Textilmuseum St.Gallen
Karen Stolleis kindly sent some copied pages from "Die christliche Kunst", 10, 1913/14. On page 45, a Cope from the Ikle collection at St Gallen is mentioned. Some years ago, an english student wrote an article about this Cope.

Cope, Textilmuseum St Gallen, TM 23809

Penelope E. Wallis,
An English Medieval Cope in the Textilmuseum St.Gallen
the description of the Cope is taken from the english version
printed in german language in: Textilkunst 1/1984, p.19-21

Part of it is reproduced as follows:
In the Textilmuseum St.Gallen is a splendid example of an English embroidered cope from the latter part of the Middle-ages. Dating from c. 1500 it shows several motifs, embroidered in silver-gilt and coloured silks, applied to a rich purple velvet background. Although the hood and orphreys are lacking and some of the motifs have been restored (in a different coloured silk) the condition of the vestment is generally good.
The main iconographical theme of the St.Gallen cope is that of the Virgin Mary’s part in Christ’s sacrifice for the Redemption of Mankind’s original sin, and is summed up by the scene placed in the centre back of the vestment which shows the Assuption of the Virgin.- She is depicted,
surrounded by a mandorla, being borne aloft by five demi-angels who rise from clouds. The overall design is similar to that of other English copes of this date; for example, that from Norrkoeping, now in Stockholm, that at Oscott College, and another

in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The motifs, which powder the field of the cope, are three types of conventional flowers, fleur-de-lys and angels. The conventional flowers are so stylized that they do not resemble any known flora but, they can be seen to have Christian allegoral interpretations. It is likely that the scattering of the flowers over the cope may represent the flos campi, the flowers of the field, from the Old Testament. The angels which appear on the cope continue a tradition which was seen on the vestments of the great period of Opus Anglicanum. Apart from the five demi-angels bearing Mary to Heaven, twelve demi-angels are depicted on the St.Gallen cope, all emanating from clouds and surrounded by rays of light. Those angels closest to Mary - the three on either side and two below all have four wings. Of those to the side and the lowest one are in the orans attitude, whilst that immediately below the Assumption scene holds a crown of thorns, a symbol of the Passion and another reference to Christ’s Sacrifice.The four angels placed outside the central group have each two wings and hold a scroll with the inscription "DA GLORIAM DEO" . In the central scene Mary’s body is being carried into paradise; she is shown crowned as Queen of heaven.

David M. Mitchell, London, Great Britain
Coverpanes: their nature and use in Tudor England

A feature of the inventories of Tudor noblemen is the inclusion among their napery of elaborately described coverpanes. They were used to cover the principal place setting of salt, trencher, knife, spoon and bread (pain), and were removed ‘the meale beinge placede on the table, and the lorde sett’. The finest were made either of linen damask and diaper or holland embroidered with silk and metal threads. The paper will discuss their use, form and design. Further, it will argue that certain pieces in the Victoria & Albert Museum can be identified with coverpanes in Henry VIII’s inventory of 1547.

Karen Finch, London, Great Britain
An embroidered sampler or "archive"

The sampler is owned by an English family, who live in an 16th century house, once a monastery. The origin of the sampler is not known. It is intriguing because of the gauze weave of its background. The designs are worked in double running stitch with hard twisted crimson silk. I first saw it 30 years ago and have seen no other like it since. The lay-out of the embroidery suggests its use as the "archive" of an itinerant embroiderer who untertook commissions to embroider collars and wristbands and possibly linen vestments for the Eucharist.

Naomi Tarrant, Edinburgh, Great Britain
Scottish samplers

Recent work on samplers in the collection of the National Museums of Scotland has helped to identify traits which appear to indicate a Scottish origin. These include particular ways of embroidering the alphabet, colours, the initials of family and specific motifs. The study has also attempted to place the maker in her economic and social context by using the initials to trace parents etc.

Ebeltje Hartkamp-Jonxis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
In the shadow of William Morris ?

In 1994 the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam acquired a Leek embroidery, presumably designed by Thomas Wardle. Was Wardle inspired by what he saw in India during his travels or is the pattern an adaptation of a Morris design in the oriental Taste?

Elsa E. Gudjˇnsson, Kˇpavogur, Iceland
Reflar in Icelandic documents before 1570

From the earliest times (late 9th century A.D.) wall hangings, such as refill, bor­i, br˙n, d˙kur and tjald, were a part of the interior decor of Icelandic secular dwellings. With the advent of Christianity (in the year 1000) this custom was commonly adopted in churches as well.
The paper is based on the author’s survey of all known Icelandic written sources from mediaeval times until 1569 of the wall hangings called reflar. Although mainly church inventories, testaments and lists of secular property printed in Diplomatarium Islandicum, the sources include as well Icelandic mediaeval literature, Icelandic annals and B˙aloeg, old Icelandic price and wage regulations. The author reaches the conclusion that the long, horizontal wallhangings named refill in mediaeval Iceland were generally - even exclusively - decorated with embroidery ecexuted in laid and couched work, registered as refilsaumur as early as 1550.
The Bayeux tapestry, an embroidered hanging in laid and couched work, believed to have been produced in southern England between the years 1066 and 1082, is a true refill in the Icelandic sense. Two out of the three earliest references to reflar in Iceland, Eyrbyggja saga and Gisla sage S˙rssonar, written down in the first half of the 13th century, state or imply that these hangings were brought to Iceland from the British Isles.
Design from perhaps the only surviving Icelandic refill, a wall hanging executed in laid and couched embroidery, refilsaumur, in tan wool on black woollen extended tabby, tvistur. From the church at Hvammur in Hvammssveit, western Iceland. From about 1450 (1430- 1480). Height ab. 70 cm. In the Danish National Museum, Copenhagen, Inv. No. CLII,1819.

Drawing by the author.

Nicola J. Shilliam, Boston, U.S.A.
From the Natural World to a Wider World: Some Pattern Sources for English Embroidery in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

This paper will focus on several pieces of English needlework dating from the early 17th century to the early 18th century, now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, that illustrate the changing pattern sources that inspired the English embroiderer during a century of great changes. Objects examined include a woman’s embroidered bodice, coif and matching forehead cloth, dating from the early 17th century, a raised work picture, depicting the four known continents, dated 1649, and two early examples of chinoiserie from the late 17th-early 18th century.

Clare Rose, Winchester, Great Britain
Boutis de Londres? - quilted items in 18th century England

Early quilted textiles have proved difficult to date and to localise, since both the materials and the patterns are relatively anonymous. However, I have identified several survivings sets of 18th century quilted layettes which include shaped garments. These sets can thus be dated and related to items of known importance, such as the quilted dress at the Museum of London. They can also be linked through 18th century tradecards and accounts to the retailers specialising in quilted textiles, both ‘boutis de marseilles’ and ‘boutis de Londres’.
Sources: 18th century textiles in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Museum of Costume, Bath, and private collections; 18th century tradecards in the Heal, Banks and Guildhall Library collections.

Rosalia Bonito Fanelli, Prato, Italy
The textile furnishings of the English church in Florence

The textile furnishings of the two Anglican churches of Florence - Holy Trinity and St. Mark’s - built in the late 19th century for the British community in Florence - fall into two groups: those made by the women in the Altar Guild and those executed in professional workshops in London. Gothic and Renaissance influences are present in these textile objects arising from the interest of the Anglo-Catholic Movement and of the William Morris circle. In particular the technique of gold couching was revived in English embroidery at this time.
Interestingly, the architect George Frederick Bodley designed Queens’ College Chapel, Cambridge in 1890-91 and Holy Trinity Church, Florence in 1891-92.

Anne Wanner, St Gallen, Switzerland
White-on-white embroideries as represented in illustrated reports of international exhibitions

This paper is based on illustrated reports, published in Leipzig, Germany, on the international exhibitions of the 19th century. A supplement to the Leipzig newspaper, in May 1851, shows white embroideries from eastern Switzerland. Lavishly illustrated catalogues published by A.Brockhaus, Leipzig of 1862, 1867, 1873 and 1878 show wood engravings or xylographies and several English, French and also German and Swiss textiles. The importance of Paris as a centre of design can be seen. In Swiss museum collections some of the pieces mentioned in the catalogues are preserved, and so the catalogues become important documents aids to the history of the embroideries.

Mamluk or Italian embroidery?
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
No 6, Oct.1997/ 8

Marianne Ellis
Newberry Collection
and Ashmolean Museum in Oxford

please send your answers to Marianne Ellis or to Santina M. Levey

Marianne Ellis is interested in the links between mamluk and Italien embroideries in the 15th - 16th centuries. She has come across this following piece, which is in the Ikle collection St.Gallen (Inv.Nr. TM 23958).
She would like to know about comparable examples. The panel is worked in a darning or weaving stitch and the patterns resemble those in Mamluk bands with darned patterns.

Textilmuseum St Gallen, Ikle Collection (Nr.112) Ikle catalogue p.30, TM 23958

embroidery-technique: pulled threadwork
Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden, Textilmuseum St Gallen
No 6 / Oct.1997/ 9-10


Prof.Dr. Ruth Bleckwenn
Point de Saxe (Dresdenwork)
Westfael. Wilhelms-University

The diaphanous whitework, called Point de Saxe respectively Dresdenwork (in German "Desdener Spitze") (fig. 1) has so far not been dealt with, probably because they bear characteristics of embroidery (technique) and lace (use and aesthetical effect) (1).
Up to now a clear definition is missing and therefore different works are shown as "Dresdenwork" in famous museums. A definition is given at first; as it is common practise with lace it starts with the technique.

Point de Saxe is a whitework looking like lace, worked on fine tabby weave fabric made of cotton, rarely of linen. Its characteristics, which are different fillings, result from pulling (not drawing!) of the threads; this technique is also known as "A jour". These very diaphanous parts fill the imaginative large motifs, in many cases they soften the background (fig.2). In contrast to these are usually dense parts (e.g. outlined forms and smaller motifs), in most cases made in herringbone stitch from the left side, in buttonhole stitch or applique work. Lines are mainly worked in chain stitch or stem stitch. Smaller parts are rarely cut out and filled with needlepoint or cut threadwork (fig.3). The boundaries to pure whitework and quilt are fluid, for there are e.g. examples with few or more dense fillings and those with relief impressions of the dense parts, caused by interlinings.

The chronical peak of the production of Point de Saxe was approximately between 1710 and 1770. In Germany in those days these works were called "weisse Brodierung" or "Ausnaeharbeit" (2). But "Dresdener Spitze" in Saxonia meant a nowadays nearly unknown needle point, which was made in and around Dresden (3). It seems that in England already around 1755 Point de Saxe is known as "Dresden Embroidery" (4).
Embroideries like this were not only produced in Saxonia, but also in other european countries; whereby it is not quite clear which countries it were (5).

Carefully looked at some characteristics of the works that were probably made in Saxonia (as the inventory sheets in the Textilmuseum St.Gallen show) can be stated (fig. 3 and 4):
- Large imaginative flowers were prefered as main motifs, they resemble indian printed textiles of those days and even Meissener porcelain.
- The repeats of the design are asymmetrical; weavelike moving can often be seen.
- The slim edging is in most cases structuraly connected with the main braid.
There are as well many pieces of the same origin that show other characteristics.

Many museums possess Point de Saxe; the largest stocks may well be those of the Textilmuseums’ St.Gallen and of the Museum of Applied Arts (Kunstgewerbe- museum) in Dresden. This lace originates in fabrics and therefore often whole objects are preserved, like scarfs, sleeve ruffles and jabots. But pieces can be found too, reworked in the 19th century, e.g. to collars or cut off braids of unknown origin.Many samplers are restored too (6).
The author will further work on this topic; she is gratefull for any hints on stocks of museums that are unknown to her and on literature. More publications on this topic are planned.


1) Some explanations are to find in: Earnshaw, Pat: The Identification of Lace. Princes Risborough Shire Publ. 3.ed. 1994, pp. 28-30. Lenning, Gertrud: Unsterbliche Spitze, Berlin Fachverlag Schiele und Schoen. o.J. (around 1950). pp. 77-78. Levey, Santina: Lace. A History. London Victoria and Albert museum, Maney a.Son, 1983. pp. 72-73. Schuette, Marie: Alte Spitzen. Berlin, Richard Carl Schmidt u.Co. 3.ed. 1925, pp 261-262.

2) For example: Jacobson, Johann Carl Gottfried: Schauplatz der Zeugmanufakturen in Deutschland... 3.Bd. Berlin, August Mylius 1775, p.441

3) Acta die von denen Koehlerinnen nachhero verehelichte Weyandten etablierte Manufaktur von genaehten Spitzen ... betr. Anno 1764-1811. sheat 2 (16.10.1766). Saechs.Hauptstaatsarchiv Dresden, Loc 11096.

4) Patent for K.-F. Weisenthal, from king Georg II, 1755, No.701"Needle for Ornamenting Fabrics." Printed London, George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswood. 1856.

The author thanks Frau Sachs and Frau Metz, Staedt. Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz for the hint to this source.

5) For example: Earnshaw (1994) p.28, Levey (1883) p.73: Schuette (1926) pp.261-262.

6) Some samplers in this technique from the 18th century were pointed out in News Letter of the Cieta Embroidery Group 6th Jan.1997 No. 4, p. 5. A. Wanner published in the same Newsletter (p.6) samplers in this technique from Switzerland from the 19th century.

fig. 1: Sleeve ruffle, TM St Gallen, 21176

fig. 2: Sleeve ruffle (part), Inv.Nr. TM St Gallen 47518

fig 3: Sleeve ruffle (part), Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden, Textilabteilung, Inv.Nr. 18304

fig 4.: Scarf, Textilmuseum St.Gallen, Inv.Nr. 21251

Exhibition Cambridge 1997
whitework samplers
No 6 / Oct.1997/ 11

Title of the book: Samplers
author: Carol Humphrey
Fitzwilliam Museum Handbooks, Cambridge, 1997, ISBN 0-521-57300-9

This catalogue (see Newsletter No 5, p.8) shows 2 examples of pulled threadwork. One in combination with hollie point, and the other one of a later period, 1830

book review: Museum of Folk Art, Moscow
Russian Embroidery: Traditional Motifs
No 6 / oct.1997/ 12

Title: Russian Embroidery. Tradtitonal Motifs
The Museum of Folk Art, Moscow
year: 1990,
text 30 pages in Russian (summary in English), 316 pages,
black and white photographs and many coloured pictures 130 pages,
catalogue no 1 - 279 in Russian and English with some black and white pictures
Moscow Sovetskaya Rossiya Publihers 1990, ISBN 5-268-00427-I


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