|A Chihuly chandelier hangs in the grand lobby of the Victoria and Albert Museum.|
Medieval needlework was often a medium for storytelling. It told of wars and conquests, heros and warriors, love won and love lost, etc. Myths and legends were recorded for future generations through the nimble fingers of the artisans. Through the intricately depicted figures stitched into the Tristan Quilt, this classic Norman legend follows Tristan into battle and tells the tale of love and deception between Tristan and Isolde.
The quilt has been traced to an atelier in Sicily, Italy between 1360 - 1400. Because linen was widely available in Italy and France, and because of it's sturdy, long-lasting nature, it was used in many antique needlework pieces. In this quilt, the atelier used linen for both the top and backing of the quilt as well as linen thread for the stitching.
A close-up view shows the deterioration of the fabric, however, a great deal of restoration has taken place to preserve this item from further decline. Even so, some of the original stitches are still in place. I find it quite amazing and awe-inspring to think that someone, more then 600 years ago, living in a world completely foreign to our world today, likely working in conditions that we would consider quite harsh, skillfully placed those stitches with diligence and patience.
The quilt is displayed behind glass, so it was possible to get up very close and study the stitching in the images. A significant portion of the quilt has stitching that is deeply imbedded into the fabric and I would venture a guess that those would be original. A thrilling concept!
Below are several close-ups of the quilt.
|The text surrounding the figures describes the scene.|
|Letters and channels were likely corded, while the larger areas were stuffed with cotton wadding.|
|Note the fine stitching around the King's head. Known as "point rapproche" (closely spaced, back and forth running stitch), it is still commonly used today in "boutis" and acts as a type of stipple stitch.|
|Close-up of the stitching. The brown thread outlining the flower and the vine is done in "point de piqure", the tiny backstitch that is one of the main stitches used in "boutis".|
|The Tristan Quilt on display at the V & A is only a portion of the whole quilt. A sister quilt hangs in the National Museum of the Bargello in Florence, Italy.|
|Not to be missed when at the museum, is a tea break in the restaurant. The freshly baked scones and clotted cream keep me coming back!|
|Even the tile work on the floor of the restaurant provides inspiration for a future project.|