My sister-in-law sent me a link this morning to an article in the New York Times about embroidery. Seeing History in the Eye of a Needle is actually a review of an exhibition of embroidery at the Bard Graduate Center. The exhibit, English Embroidery From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580-1700: ’Twixt Art and Nature focuses on 17th century England (one of the golden ages of embroidery) and features 85 works. Items include clothing (a truly stunning jacket that can be seen in the accompanying slide show—link below), accessories (gloves, caps, and purses), silk and canvas panels, jewelry chests, cameo portraits of Charles 1, and beaded trays and baskets.
An English beadwork tray by an unknown designer and maker, 1662-70.
Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art
The closing paragraph from the article:
"Embroidery is a glorious byproduct of sewing, one of the world’s most essential crafts. Sewing began sometime in prehistory, probably when pieces of animal hide were lashed together into a crude garment. But humans never cease. The marvels of this exhibition testify to the human need to improve, refine and perfect, turning a means of survival into a sublime vehicle of expression."
A Golden Age for Embroidery (slide show of images from the collection)
The slides are great but I'm sure can't do justice to the original pieces. I think I'm going to make plans to go see this exhibit—how could I not :)
It runs through April 12 at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture, 18 West 86th Street, Manhattan; (212) 501-3000