Birds of a Feather Flock to the Met!
“Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is an unusual show for the Met.
Though the 134 works in the show, from five continents and seven Met departments, are all stunning, they weren’t selected their artistry entirely. They’re here because of another quality: all of them were made for customers in another part of the world.
“Interwoven Globe” unfolds during the age of exploration and colonialism, when the textile market went global. Weavers connected with the work of unseen counterparts, and the tastes of new audiences. Motifs, patterns, and imagery ricocheted around the planet, along with new materials and methods.
Chinese embroiderers were hired to embellish traditional Andean and Mexican garments, as well as those of European origin. A velvet-weaving industry was established in Turkey to fulfill the local taste for Italian velvets from Venice and Florence. Persian sashes became a requisite part of the wardrobe for noblemen of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Patterned Indian calicos and chintzes transformed European fashion and home decor in the 17th and 18th centuries.
All these customers had different tastes, but they all liked birds. Here are some of my favorites.
From top: Coverlet, China, for European market, 17th century, silk, satin. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Palampore, India, for Dutch market, 18th century, cotton. Cleveland Museum of Art. Textile With Pheasants and exotic flowers, attributed to Talwin and Foster, England, 1765–75, fustian, copperplate printed. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wall Panel With Garden Urns, China, for European market, late 18th century, silk taffeta, painted and printed. Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Toilet of the Princess, Attributed to John Vanderbank, Great Wardrobe tapestry workshop, London, 1690–1715, tapestry weave, wool and silk. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Petticoat Panel, England, 1690–1710, linen, embroidered with silk. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Curtain, India (Gujarat), late 17th century, cotton, embroidered with silk. MFA, Boston. Coverlet, Attributed to Sarah Furman Warner Williams, ca. 1803, linen and cotton, embroidered with silk. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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