Saturday, 28 November 2009

Beautiful Birds & Butterflies

Beautiful birds & butterflies as depicted in French 17th, 18th & 19th century textiles; printed toiles and cottons, lace, tapestry, needlepoint and more. Motifs to cheer the heart in the middle of Winter when all is cold, damp and drear outside. A reminder that we will soon be celebrating Mid-Winter, which helps up to get through the dark days, back to the beginning again with the start of Spring. People throughout history have brought images of nature into their homes all year round through the use of textiles, paintings and ornaments, Even in todays high-tech, urban culture, we are still drwan to such images to decorate our interior spaces, be they naturalistic or styalised.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Some spectacular embroidered & beaded antique evening bags

With the party season almost upon us, I thought I would look out a few pretty little antique evening bags to sell.
The geometric beadwork bag is French Art Deco, and is really heavy for its size, completely encrusted front & back with tiny glass beads in an elegant cream, brown and black pallette, a pefect example of Deco restraint and elegance.
The bird & roses beadwork bag is again French, made with the tiniest coloured glass beads, most likely mid 19th century with its typical Victorian-style design, but I think the beaded panel has been sewn to its navy silk velvet back at a later date.
The black velvet reticule is beaded all over with hand made white glass beads and embellished with gold metal thread decoration. I think it dates to anything from 1900-1930, and is either Indian, or inspired by Indian textiles.
The last bag is a superb example of mid to late 19th century needlepoint, to the naked eye, it looks like a machine woven design, but on closer inspection, the exquisite stitches are revealed, stitched onto very fine canvas, the background has been left unstitched. The frame is beautiful, gilt metal with little imitation pearls, and it is lined with pale green grosgrain silk.

All of these very different bags are incredibly beautiful in their own way, but they are all a little delicate for me, I am a bit of a clumsy so & so, I would probably break anything as dainty as these beauties, so I will be sticking to my gorgeous 1930s, indestructable and capacious lady's leather Gladstone Bag to be on the safe side...

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Blustery Weather, Comfort Food & Comfort Textiles!

The weather is so blustery & Autumnal this weekend, I can't help but think of delicious comfort foods - an afternoon of baking seasonal delights to keep out the cold will be a perfect compliment the wet & windy weather! This afternoon we are having a roasted wild pheasant seved with a spicy tomato gravy with bubble & squeak, with some pheasant pasties to make up for tomorrow's lunch with the leftovers. I shall also be making up some jam tarts and mince pies to snack on through next week.

My thoughts of textiles have also turned to 'comfort', so to speak this weekend, and I have found myself drawn once again, as I often am, to some of the more humble, domestic scenes portrayed in late 18th & early 19th century French toiles. Most people think of Romantic pastoral scenes when they think of Toile de Jouy, or possibly of historical pieces filled with pomp & circumstance. I used to think so too, but in the last few years, I have been actively hunting out new toile designs and along with the romantic, and the pomp, have come across some truly amazing scenes, delicate domestic scenarios, like snapshots in a kitchen, living room, barn etc, as people relax and portrayed as themselves in their domestic settings. Of course, these are still romantasised, idealised images, but they still evoke something of the domestic ambience of the period, and I find that very comforting!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Lest We forget

'No words could express the beauty of it. The dreary dismal mud was baked white and pure - dazzling white. White daisies, red poppies and a blue flower, great masses of them, stretched for miles and miles. The sky a pure, dark blue and the whole air, up to a height of about 40 feet, thick with white butterflies: your clothes were covered with butterflies. It was like an enchanted land, but in the place of fairies were thousands of little white crosses, marked 'Unknown British Soldier' for the most part.'

William Orpen, the war artist describing the Somme 6 months after the battle in 1917

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The latest addition to my toile collection

Well, I am really pleased, I managed to find a toile design on ebay last week that I have been wishing to own for quite a while! It is a small but superb French quilted bed pelmet in Toile d'Alsace in the design Episodes in the life of Napoleon I. There isn't a complete pattern repeat, but I am not complaining, I love the piece, it is even more beautiful than the pictures in a reference book that I have been drooling over for a few years. It dates to about 1840, and was printed after Napoleon's death. I really like the picture of Napoleon inspecting the artillery, apparently, according to a historian friend of mine, he was especially partial to artillery. The designer has managed to capture the flame on the lighting taper and a distant explosion simply by leaving certain areas of the toile white. I also like the way the horse gazes out at the viewer, a common device to engage the viewer more intimately with the picture. A beautiful panel. Hurrah!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

18th & 19th Century Vestments, Exquisite Silks, Trims & Embroidery

I always look for 18th & 19th century vestments when I am on buying trips, the quality of the fabric & trims used is always of the finest, the garments and accessories have been made with love & care, and have invariably been carefully mended and darned to keep them in the best of repair for as long as possible.

Here are two 18th century silk chasubles, a 19th century cloth of gold humeral veil, a small silk brocade runner or chalice veil dating to about 1750 and a maniple of about the same date. The detail is wonderful, an outward expression of inward devotion. Even though I am an atheist myself, I am still fascinated and awed by religeous artifacts and the cultural history expressed through them.