Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Colonial Embroideries at the Boston MFA

Colonial Metallic Embroidery
I could just kick myself for not jotting down the attribution for this piece, but it is silk and metallic hand embroidery on a silk apron if I remember correctly. A metallic embroidered pheonix from the colonial period—pretty friggin rad right?!

I've been spending a lot of my spare time at various area museums lately in order to write papers for my first graduate course and was delighted to see an exhibit of hand embroideries from colonial Boston featured in the MFA's Art of the Americas wing. It was just a little room tucked away in the basement of the museum and I think anyone who might have walked in on me would have thought I was some crazy woman on a sugar high or something, I felt so lucky to have stumbled upon them!

It always makes my heart feel good to see such exquisite historical textiles not only professionally conserved, but taken seriously and displayed in a museum of such stature. I'm afraid my photos from within the low-lit exhibit (gotta protect those delicate fibres) don't do them justice at all, but hopefully they are enough to give you a taste for the rich history of the art form and an idea of what the exhibit offers. It will remain up until June 3, 2012 so I highly recommend seeing it if you're going to be in the Boston area before then!
Petticoat Border
Embroidery attributed to Catherine Woods Brigham, American, born in 1733
Petticoat Border, Boston, Massachusetts, Mid-18th century, Linen plain weave, Embroidered with Wool

It was amazing to see all the individual stitches of a Jacobean style embroidery up close and in person for the first time and the tree of life motif from the border of this petticoat was my absolute favorite. Can you just imagine having that peeking out from your skirts?! Most of the pieces are attributed to Boston school girls and I just stood there wondering in amazement at the incredible articulation of the medium, let alone the idea that these magnificent works adorned everyday items like aprons, seat covers, and petticoats.

Now I've just got to find time to go back and see another exhibit there that just started on the role of vintage textiles from the home front of WWII it just me or does that sound pretty much awesome?

1 comment:

Meeling said...

Very cool! I too enjoy exhibits like that, and agree how nice it is to see them being properly preserved and displayed.

We had the chance in Italy last year to visit some awesome museums and see all kinds of exhibits including fabrics and clothing etc...some of the details truly are amazing!