Thursday, June 17, 2010

A few historical notes (Part 1)

I’m naturally studious (that sounds much nicer than “curious,” doesn’t it?). Even pure pleasure reading elicits the questions “Who?,” “What?,” “When?,” “Where?,” and “Why?” So, go figure when I read something so richly informative as...More...Elizabeth Bradley’s “Ricami Vittoriani,” the Italian translation of her “Decorative Victorian Needleworks” (see the bibliography of my needlepoint book collection).

She skips over the early history of needlepoint (see, eventually, my “A few historical notes (Part 2)”), and jumps to the period in question, the Victorian age, in which one sees the benefits of industrialization for needlepoint.

The first hand-colored printed grids (for cross stitch) appeared in about 1800. Since their (female!) designer lived in Berlin, the hand work was known as “Berlin work.” These hand-colored printed grids first appeared in England in 1831, and still were quite costly.

The new wealth and leisure time created by industrialization, as well as the appearance of brighter aniline dyes around the mid 19th century, helped to make this pastime immediately popular with ladies of leisure in England and (with patterns already 6, or 7, years old) in the States.

Preferred styles followed the “Fine Arts,” while favored subjects could reflect contemporary, or historical, events: for example, animal themes became quite popular in England, after the opening of the zoo in Regent Park in 1828.

Books and magazines contributed to disseminating ideas, tastes and popular patterns.

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