More duplicates!

First off, I’ve found two more examples of the spinx, urn, and pelican pattern I showed in the first note of this series. Both of the new examples are in the Cooper Hewitt. Here are just the center urn sections from both. Please visit the links to view the entire works:

Border, Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt, Accession 1931-66-144. 17th Century, North Africa

Band, Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum. Accession 1931-66-142. Undated, North Africa.

For comparison, here are the urn/bird sections of the three I’ve previously posted:

Valence Embroidered with a Grotesque Motif, Hermitage Museum, 16th century, Italy

Border, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession 14.134.16a, 17th century, Italy.

Valence Embroidered with a Grotesque Motif. Hermitage Museum, 16th century, Italy.

Of the red mesh background examples, two retain their companion edgings, but they are different and unrelated to each other and to the main pattern panel. No two are alike, neither in the main motif or the companion edgings, although all of the main motifs are clearly descended from a common source.

As to North Africa vs. Italy as the source of the Cooper Hewitt pieces, Iv’e noted that some panels cited by Freida Lipperheide as being Moroccan in origin are now attributed by other museums as being Italian. The style of stitching apparently was called “Moorish,” or “Moresque” at one time, and that label may have influenced the early attributions. Again, without academic and detailed materials analyses we’re at the mercy of the occasionally musty museum attributions.

It’s interesting to note that the most detailed piece is the 17th century Cooper Hewit holding; and that iteratino is most like the 16th century darned net sample (two baby birds; pomegranates growing from the urn base; other similarities)/ The other pieces are closer to each other (one baby bird, downward growning side urn decorations, etc.). I note that the tendency fo these patterns is to lose rather than gain detail over time. But in the absence of any scholarly examination of these pieces, I can’t challenge the museum dates. But I can safely say that considerable leeway exists in pattern interpretation.

On to a new example. This one is an even better example of pattern conservatism over time. Centuries, in fact.

Band. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession 09.50.1363, 16th to 17th century, Italy.

Border. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession 09.50.3804. 16th to 17th century, Italy or Greek Islands

Band. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession 09.50.61. 1th Century, Greek Islands

As you can see, I’ve found at least three examples of this one, spanning a possible 200-year range, done in different styles. The top one appears to have been worked in Italian two-sided cross stitch, but not pulled tightlly. Some of its side sprigs are in plain old cross stitch. The middle example features a pulled background mesh stitch – possibly the same Italian two-sided cross stitch, but tightly drawn. Jury is still out on this one, but up-close viewing reveals bundling rather than withdrawn or missing threads). The bottom example is worked in plain old cross stitch, with evidence of having been stitched in two colors (the vertical element in the fragmentary corner appears to have been done in a second color).

Now, not every pattern maintains recognizability and integrity over 200 years. But some clearly do, in spite of minor variations in detail (the side sprig flowers), and in stitch choice. Of course it’s also possible that the original collectors bought items wihtout clear documentation of provenance or origin time; and that some of the examples we think of as being earlier, are in fact of later manufacture. Again we need serious inquiry on this, armed with all of the dating techniques at modern disposal. So I ask as a self-taught dilettante – Is anyone out there looking for a really meaty doctoral thesis topic in textile history?

I’ve got more of these multiples to show. Stay tuned!

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3 responses

  1. Is this ok to add this article to my facebook fan page, i think they would love this stuff

    1. I don’t think that reposting the images from the museums is allowed. I can get away with it because I’ve quoted and attributed the ultimate source, and have them as illustrations for “scholarly” discussion. But pinning them divorces them from both discussion and the attributions, and that is definitely against the museums’ policies.

  2. […] Long Lost Twins, Part V. Lots more on that harpies/urns design; found in many museums, many iterations, and even multiple stitching modalities. […]

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