When I went on my epic road trip by train a couple of weeks ago, I ended my trip in Dresden to visit the Rüstkammer (click the link for short YouTube videos of the exhibition and an online catalogue of the pieces). Although my husband lived in Dresden for about a year, I wasn't into embroidery back then and thus never visited this museum. How times have changed! However, the museum houses the largest collection of Renaissance clothing in the world. And this clothing was often elaborately embroidered. Due to the foresight of the royal family of Saxony, the clothes were collected instead of worn up or placed in the graves. If you study Tudor embroidery, Elizabethan embroidery or 17th-century stumpwork embroidery, this is a collection you absolutely want to visit. And whilst there is no paper version of the museum catalogue, there is an online one (just click the link a little further up and scroll to the bottom of the page). Both the museum website and the captions in the museum are also available in English. As I fully understand that not everybody can travel to Germany, I am going to introduce you to some spectacularly embroidered pieces. Enjoy!
Although there are very many beautifully embroidered pieces on display, the above mantle blew me away because of its sheer size and whimsical embroidery. It was made in 1611 for Johan Georg I of Saxony by Dresden embroiderer Hans Erich Friese. It was given to him by his mother Sophie of Brandenburg as a Christmas present. The embroidery on the cloak shows Dresden and the surrounding countryside. The cloak was part of a whole matching outfit and Johan Georg must have looked splendid wearing all those matching pieces.
Here you see a close-up of the embroidered seam. On the left, there is a lady in a red dress milking a cow. In the middle, there is a herdsman and towards the left, there is a man in red with a couple of swift hunting dogs (Johan Georg was an avid hunter). There are all sorts of watercraft on the river Elbe. And on the opposite river bank, there are wild animals standing on the hillocks beneath the trees.
As you can see, parts of the scenes are being repeated along the seam. Here we have another milkmaid on the right. The main scene consists of the bridge that connects the old part of town with the new part of town. The rectangular raft approaching the bridge has so much detail in it. And do you see the little red man with his fishing rod? I can just imagine how embroiderer Hans Erich Friese enjoyed himself and kept adding whimsical characters like these. There is so much to discover!
The embroidery itself consists of many techniques which can be found on 17th-century embroidery from England (think caskets!). Many elements have some form of padding. And Hans Erich also cleverly incorporates the background silk to form the sky and the river. And I think that the canopies of the trees are made of over-twisted silk.
As said, the embroidered blue cloak was part of an elaborate outfit. Hans Erich Friese must have embroidered for several years with a dedicated team of embroiderers in his Dresden workshop.
And look at the gorgeous hat! There are even pink dolphins swimming in the river Elbe. Not sure the water was clean enough for these animals to enjoy a swim in the river in the 17th-century ...
Do click on the provided links as there are many more pictures online for you the explore. There are also matching trousers and a lovely hunting bag.
It is with great sadness that I inform you that we had to put our cat Sammie down on Friday morning. We brought him, and his brother Timmie, home from the animal shelter in 2012 after returning home from teaching in San Fransisco for the RSN. Just before flying out to San Francisco, our 'third-hand' cat Stimpy had to be put down at the ripe old age of 21+. When we passed an animal shelter in San Francisco and studied the cat pictures in the window display, we knew we were ready for a new cat or two. It was actually a struggle to get five-year-oldish Timme & Sammie as the animal shelter wasn't sure we were the right match for them as both were severely traumatised. But, after hiding under the couch for a couple of days, they bacame the most sociable cats one could have hoped for. In recent years, they even started to greet visitors. Some of you had the 'priviledge' to open the balcony door repeatedly whilst sitting at your slate frame :). Seeing Timmie grieve by hiding under the couch again and by searching for his brother is a touching reminder that animals are far wiser than we often think.
Please note, that I am taking my creative break until the 31th of August. The next blog post will be published on the 5th of September!
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