Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Fabric for Clémentine d'Orléans

photo St Tyl
A story of weaving  for the Grand Trianon -
New post at StTyl, click

A fabric for Clémentine d'Orléans at the Grand Trianon

Marie-Clémentine d'Orleans Princesse de Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha 
in a painting by Winterhalter
The last king of France, Louis-Philippe had a particularly intelligent daughter, Clémentine d'Orleans 1817-1907, who became the princess de Saxe-Cobourg. This youngest daughter was so well-known for her ambition and intelligence in political  matters that she received the nickname of 'the Medici of the Cobourgs.' French history is filled with intelligent, influential women and we are reminded of many through the objects they left behind. Before her marriage and installation in the Cobourg palace in Vienna, the young woman naturally she lived with her family in the Palais Royal, the château des Tuileries, and the Grand Trianon. 

The curator of the Grand Trianon recently found a chair in storage that has been traced to Cléméntine. The bare bones of the chair, similar to the above reproduction, were in need of adequate upholstery and a fine silk to attest to the memory of this most accomplished princess. Tassinari & Chatel has agreed to share some of what goes on behind the scenes in the case of  such a recreation. Those interested in European textile history will recognize the names of Pernon and of Grand Frères, encompassed now by Tassinari & Chatel. The silk weaver's rich past is attested to by 100,000 textile archives.

photo Tassinari & Chatel
Research was first conducted in the Livre de Commandes (order book) of the period . Many a decorative project can be traced there, including those for Malmaison, Fontainebleau, the Elysée, Versailles, the White House, the Ritz... to name but a  few. To make research more of a challenge, certain orders are written in an ancient and obscure stenographic text to assure the extreme discretion demanded by clients concerning their projects.
This particular chair was not found in the records, but the project was not to stop there.

photo St Tyl
 Silk weaver and curator reviewed many designs of the period, until one stood out, a floral by the artist, Grandbarbe. Grandbarbe was very much appreciated for both the original designs of his early career and the re-interpretations of earlier designs for this period that was just beginning to become eclectic and historicizing. It may be that the spirit of Clémentine was guiding their choice because the design fit the proportions of her dainty chaise gondole perfectly!

photo Tassinari & Chatel
The woven document from the archives is of great finesse. Here, the record clearly states that the fabric, a brocaded lampas was designed by Grandbarbe in Louis XVI style and provides a sketch of the design.

photos St Tyl

As we have seen before, here, the back of a fabric is just as eloquent as the front. To the left, the back of the original mid 19th century archival document. The lampas technique is used for the grisaille patterns of foliage pearls and vases on a satin ground;  the brocaded effect is as if embroidered  is seen in the 'extra' blue, pink and green threads. This is a sure sign of hand woven fabric. The cloth such as this would have been woven face down as the weaver brocaded the colorful flowers with tiny espolins or brocading shuttles. A corner of the document is stamped Grand Frères, the name of the entreprise during most of the 19th century.

photo St Tyl
If the woven document still exists, 
the mise en carte or technical drawing had been lost to the sands of time.
It was necessary to reconstruct this essential element 
that serves to command the loom before the weaving could begin. 

photo St Tyl

Even with today's computer technology the mise en carte is a long painstaking process 
for a design as rich as this one.
 It took approximately 100 hours to complete the drawing. 

photo St Tyl
then and now

Here we have the original document on the left woven in a width of 54 cm. The weaving for the restoration was reproduced in the same proportions by inserting the design onto an expanded field of satin 
within the space provided by modern loom widths. In fact, two full panels were woven side by side between the selvedges in the 130cm width; the fabric here has been cut down the middle.

photo St Tyl
then and now

The modern version is made entirely in the lampas technique where decorative wefts are 
completely attached to the back of the fabric by a second warp. 
While the fabric loses the extreme lightness of handle of the original, it gains strength - 
an excellent idea for upholstery.

photo: Grand Trianon
Louis-Philippe, the so-called roi bourgeois, did not wish to occupy the château of Versailles, but installed his family next to it in the Grand Trianon. There he found it necessary to make some changes to accommodate a different lifestyle - and his 8 children.
Clémentine occupied apartments that had first belonged to
Mesdames de Maintenon and de Pompadour, then to Napoleon I.
Her freshly upholstered chair can be found there today.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Uplifting Clouds at Kenzo

photo St Tyl
It has been cloudy lately in Paris - even inside at Kenzo at la place des Victoires.

photo Kenzo
day clouds

photo Kenzo
night clouds
photo Kenzo

There's always an eyeful of original fabrics there. 

more on their site Kenzo

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chateau de Compiègne

photo: Le style et la matière
The Empress's dining room at Compiègne 
where Marie-Louise had her first meal with Napoleon I in the company of his sister Caroline Murat

Please join me in the Salon des Fleurs, another room of the Chateau de Compiègne
at St Tyl.

Salon des Fleurs Chateau de Compiègne

photo St Tyl

This is the Salon de Fleurs in the Château of Compiègne, formerly a royal and imperial residence. I wandered these rooms over the week-end when I went to see the exhibit Folie Textile, a wonderful show that explores the exuberant production and use of textiles at the time of Napoleon III, 1848-1871. That exhibit and some important restoration work in historic sites is making the 19th century weigh heavily in decorative world's time line these days, provoking a certain rediscovery of  decorative arts of the mid to late part of the century. More on that soon, but for today...

The Salon des Fleurs was a game room for Empress Josephine - specialty tables are scattered for playing  trictrac, quadrille, bouillotte. 
(Trictrac is backgammon. Does anyone know the names of these other games in English?)

Compiègne, le salon des Fleurs
source: Napoleon III
An important thing to remember is that in the 19th century very often fabrics were used that were woven for a prior reign (new olds) and older decors were sometimes kept by the various regimes that succeeded each other - Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, Charles X, Louis-Philippe, Napoleon III.  The reasons: availability, economy, emulation.

During the Second Empire of Napoleon III, the salon was used as a bed chamber for the Imperial Prince  The young prince scratched the date 4 décembre 1868 into the marble table 

Compiègne, salon de jeux du Prince impérial
Bourdelin, (c) RMN

played his games in another well-dressed room. 

photo St Tyl

The Salon des Fleurs takes its name from its decoration. The oil panels painted in 1809 and 1814 
by Dubois were  based on the work of Pierre-Joseph Redouté.

photo St Tyl

The armchairs and settees by Jacob-Desmalter are covered in Gobelins tapestry.The 18th century floral design by Louis Tessier of was chosen by the Empress Josephine and delivered in 1809 - once again,  
an example of  the blending of stylistic frontiers. 

photo St Tyl
detail of the canapé

The ground of the tapestry is a fair lilac shade with a band 
of crisp, violet grosgrain to give  the finishing touch. 
These tones will deepen in textile design as the century progresses even to deep purple and become very popular with the advent of color-fast aniline dyes.

photo St Tyl
A tender, watercolor quality still comes through in this 1st Empire /early 18th century tapestry.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Nureyev rests in peace below a draped carpet

There has always been cross-over and borrowing in the decorative arts. The links between mosaic and textile motifs are evident, particularly in Byzantine and Coptic art. 
Author and archeologist, Gabriel Millet, called mosaics colorful, durable carpets for all eternity.
The comparison couldn't be more fitting for today's post. 

Ezio Frigerio chose to create an amazing modern mosaic that imitates not just the pattern, but the folds, drape, and rich colors of a rug, for the funerary sculpture he was commissioned to design for Rudolf Nureyev.

photo: kinettelamossa

The sculpture, an armature of metal with bronze fringe covered with mosaic, drapes Nureyev's tomb in the Russian cemetery of Sainte Genevieve Sous Bois south of Paris. Frigerio was Nureyev's set designer and a  friend who knew him well. He wished the design to be very personal and had the idea of ​​a big multicolored carpet to drape the tomb with “all the suggestions of Oriental art that were so close to the spirit and profound nature of his great departed friend.”* 

Nureyev was an enthusiastic collector of carpets and textiles and the association of rugs with a nomadic lifestyle seemed appropriate for the legendary dancer exiled from the USSR. From his very first entrance into the world, he was already in movement when his mother gave birth to him aboard a Trans-Siberian train skirting the sparkling Lake Baikal in southern Siberia.

House and Garden photo of Nureyev in the last year of his life at Li Galli 
Frigerio was inspired by a Caucasian rug in Nureyev’s collection.  It was one of his favorites and one that he chose to take with him when he travelled. Even in his final days of suffering from AIDS, he brought his rugs with him to his Li Galli island retreat near Amalfi. 

Rudolf Nureyev funerary sculpture 
1996, Studio Akomena in collaboration with the Paris Opera

the story of of the sculpture told by Sabina Ghinassi

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Truly wall-to-wall

© Palazzo Grassi

The Rudolf Stingel exhibit at the Palazzo Grazzi in Venice has a very special scenography. 

© Palazzo Grassi

© Palazzo Grassi photos Stefan Altenburger

see more of Rudolf Stingel's art and photos by Stefan Altenburger here: 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Persan textile tales: the rose and the nightingale

    photo St Tyl

     It's not easy to get a good picture in a dark setting and this one is dim and grainy. Textile tracking is that way. It leads us into dark spaces and demands that we stand close and sometimes, to use a little imagination.  This lovely 17-18th century Persian textile is from the recent exhibit Mille et une nuits at l'Institut du monde arabe. The exhibit explored the influence of The Arabian Nights on art and craft, from its its initial spread to Europe with translations in France by by Antoine Galland in the very beginning of the 18th century and a more poetic, sensuous version 200 years later by Dr Joseph-Charles Mardrus. 
    Scheherazade by Barbier

    This second version of was even more influential; where would literature, theater and fashion, painting, opera, photography and film be without these stories? Scheherazade saved her life and changed her own destiny by telling wondrous tales each night to a cruel king and she changed ours, too. 

    photo St Tyl
    This fabric, whose frequently seen theme seems purely decorative, yet it is related to a very recognizable tale of the Thousand and one Nights. The Savavid motif was often used in painted miniatures and lacquered work as well as textiles. It refers to the story of the great and pure love of a nightingale for a beautiful white rose. The nightingale so loved the rose that he continued to sing to her despite the piercing thorns that would be his demise. The blood shed by the nightingale would forever give roses a beautiful red tint.

    A closer look shows the delicacy of the brocaded silk motif on a sumptuous ground of silver and gold threads in this variation of samitum or weft-faced compound weave. The fabric was loaned by the Musée des Tissus, Lyon.

    Metropolitan Museum
    More more rose and nightingales in staggered rows

    Metropolitan Museum

    Musee des Tissus Lyon
    The museum in Lyon has the same fabric as the Metropolitan Museum

    Iranica on line

    Iranica-on-line describes this Persian theme in more detail. We also learn of another case linking textiles to roses:

     "The role of roses in Safavid cultural life may also be seen in references to customs now fallen into disuse, such as the “festival of roses” (ʿid-e golrizi) and the presentation of floral bouquets (Herbert, pp. 261-68; Della Valle, II/2, pp. 115-16; Francklin, I, p. 84; Tavernier, p. 144). These references, taken together, evoke a luxury- and pleasure-loving society. Such a “culture of flowers” was undoubtedly encouraged by the economic prosperity of the Safavid period. In a telling example, the bi-colored rose gave its name to an important Persian innovation in weaving technology, the two-sided (do-ruʾi ) silk.