c.1455 Columba Altar details, Rogier van der Weyden (Alte Pinakothek, Munich)

c. 1455 Altar triptych by Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464)

The altar triptych got its name from its place of origin, the church of St Columba in Cologne. The central panel shows the Adoration of the Magi, the left wing depicts the Annunciation, and the right wing the Presentation in the Temple.

Details of footwear:

footwear04 footwear03 footwear02 footwear01

Details of fabric (two Kings on centre panel, one priest on right wing):

fabric 01 fabric 02 fabric 03

The complete set of photographs can be found on Flickr.

Museum Photos: 1180 bronze statuettes ‘The Four Elements’ (Bavarian National Museum, Munich)

I went on a fieldtrip to Bavaria before Christmas, to Munich and Nuremberg, but more on that later.

1180 four elements 01s

For now some photos of small bronze statuettes from 1180, which were taken in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich.

1180 four elements 00

Fieldtrip to Cologne: Wallraf-Richartz and Schnütgen Museums

In my quest to study relevant artefacts, I visited Cologne, Germany, on Tuesday 18th August, focusing on the Wallraf-Richartz museum (housing several Barthel Bruyn paintings) and the Museum Schnütgen (medieval liturgical vestments).
gudulaI must say, I was rather disappointed by the world-famous Wallraf-Richartz museum. Granted, I only visited their first floor and the “Medieval & renaissance” section, since none of the early modern – modern objects are of research interest to me, but being used to UK museums and their warm welcoming feel, as well as the helpfulness that I encountered in the Landesmuseum Zürich in Switzerland, the less than welcoming attitude (except for the bookshop staff!) at the museum reception and information put me off straight away. Perhaps the museum is too well-known for bothering? But then so is the V&A in London and I have always encountered smiles there.

Anyway, besides my personal unhappiness that shouldn’t have had an impact on the usefulness of the museum, I was struck by the rather useless information panels. It is all very well to add a panel with some fanciful text on an “unsuccessful execution” but there are people like me who would like to know the pertinent data of the object. The latter was scarce and hidden small on the bottom. What annoyed me the most was the information panel in room 9, the display of the Ursula legend panels. I wouldn’t even call it an information panel, because despite its enormous size there was no date, no provenance, no anything. I had to go online and onto their website to find the date of the objects. Sorry, but that’s just not good enough. A museum should not only be entertainment and enlightenment for the general population, but should also give enough information for those who want more. I spent 3 hours in there, photographing what I needed to and don’t think I’ll be necessarily back.

Perhaps I am being too harsh, but I think disappointment does that to a person. I had such high hopes. Nevertheless, I must not forget that they have a truly stunning array of objects in their medieval section, with Stephan Lochner probably being the most famous artist, and their collection of 14th – early 16th century altar paintings is amazing.

I can highly recommend their museum shop, I managed to find a pile (don’t ask me how much I spent…) of fantastic books on my subjects, which I would have never been made aware according to integraladjusters.com. I came back with kilos of them and just about made the baggage allowance for both suitcase and carry-on.

So, don’t mid my personal gripe too much, but I do find a welcoming and helpful attitude in public arenas very important – especially when it comes to culture and history.
palm procession christThe Museum Schnütgen was in many ways the opposite experience for me. I had not expected too much, which was probably my own fault for never having heard of it. What a mistake! The museum has stunning liturgical vestments and an amazing textiles collection (only some are on display, obviously). As they describe themselves: “The Museum Schnütgen has a valuable collection of medieval art on exhibit in one of Cologne’s oldest churches.(..) A distinctive feature of the museum is its largest exhibition space, which dates back over 1,000 years.”

I have to say, though, that the information panels are also quite poor in the textiles section, but the museum makes up for it by offering a free guide in brochure form, which offered more information and all that I had hoped for.

I enjoyed my stay so much, and was so surprised at the excellent objects that are relevant for my research, I will definitely return. I also find it wonderful to be able to look at artefacts from all angles, and this way of exhibiting reminded me of the Landesmuseum Zürich and their medieval section. The museum shop was small, but quite well stocked and I found an excellent book, the catalogue of their textile collection, which had been published with the help of the Abegg Stiftung, Switzerland – and there we have the explicit link.

Sadly I ran out of battery power for my camera too soon (must buy a second one to swap), and had to head back to the Hauptbahnhof before they closed.

I will be sharing fruits of my photographic labour from both museums on this blog.

1200-50 embroidered tablecloth (Zürich): Embroidery Designs and Patterns

The following was put together after my fieldtrip to the Landesmuseum Zürich (Switzerland) in June 2015. All photos were taken by myself, and all pattern drawings were made by me.
1200-50_tablecloth_Zurich01 design-pattern-circles

Description of Object
Online museum catalogue description:
Tischdecke. Im Mittelteil reiche Flechtbandornamentik, 26 Ovale bildend. Umschrift. Stielstich auf Leinwand, Kettenstich, Gobelinstich, Hexenstich, Flechtstich. 1200 – 1250. Herkunft: Schweiz, Ostschweiz. Masse: Höhe 111 cm, Breite 684 cm. (LM-16405)

Tablecloth. 26 circles . Linen thread on linen cloth. Stitches used: stem stitch, chain stitch, (open chain stitch), (heavy chain stitch?), gobelin stitch, herringbone stitch, interlacing stitch, (buttonhole stitch). Provenance: Switzerland, East Switzerland. Dimensions: height 111 cm, width 684 cm.
The stitch names in brackets are my own interpretations of the embroidery, having compared the original stitching to modern samples.

Document and blog post
They contain 9 close-up photos of different circles, and 3 of bird & beast motifs. It also contains 8 design drawings, 7 of which are drawings of the designs seen in the photos (as indicated) and the 8th was drawn from the tablecloth while in the museum, but I had not been able to take a good photo of the circle.
Photo 19-06-2015 08 25 24

Download the PDF document: 1200-50 linen tablecloth embroidery designs
High resolution versions of the images in this document, including the design patterns may be downloaded from this post. All images open up as high resolution.

Design pattern information
The patterns are my interpretation of the originals i.e. they are not a slavish copy but rather a ‘technical drawing’ that makes every effort to remain true to the geometrical nature of the original embroidery designs. I created the design patterns using a pair of compasses, triangle and ruler, as well as freehand drawing.

Embroidery stitches
The following close-ups show the embroidery stitches used on the tablecloth and my interpretations of them in brackets (see above Description of Object).

  • chain stitch (heavy chain stitch)
  • open chain stitch
  • stem stitch
  • gobelin stitch
  • interlacing stitch
  • (eyelet) buttonhole stitch

(heavy?) chain stitch

chain stitch
gobelin stitch
stem stitch
(eyelet) buttonhole stitch
open chain stitch
interlacing stitch
stitches: (heavy) chain, open chain, interlacing
stitches: gobelin, stem, chain, open chain, interlacing

Please refer to the legend regarding the placement of embroidery stitches in the design patterns.


Circle embroidery designs

Design & Pattern 1
design1-pattern-drawing  1200-50_tablecloth_Zurich_circle01

Design & Pattern 2
design2-pattern-drawing  1200-50_tablecloth_Zurich_circle02

Design & Pattern 3
design3-pattern-drawing  1200-50_tablecloth_Zurich_circle03

Design & Pattern 4
design4-pattern-drawing  1200-50_tablecloth_Zurich_circle04

Design & Pattern 5
design5-pattern-drawing  1200-50_tablecloth_Zurich_circle05

Design & Pattern 6
design6-pattern-drawing  1200-50_tablecloth_Zurich_circle06

Design & Pattern 7
design7-pattern-drawing  1200-50_tablecloth_Zurich_circle07

Design 8

Design 9

Pattern 8

Embroidery Motifs

1200-50_tablecloth_Zurich_bird02  1200-50_tablecloth_Zurich_beast01  1200-50_tablecloth_Zurich_bird01

Fieldtrip: Landesmuseum Zürich, Switzerland

On 18th June 2015 I went to the Landesmuseum in Zürich, which I had visited the previous year and had been very impressed with their pre-1600 textiles (esp embroideries) on display. Andrea Franzen, curator of textiles, was so kind to meet with me on short notice, and a photography pass had also been prepared for me. I would like to say that the staff at the museum was extremely helpful and friendly and I can’t thank them enough which is promoted by cashshape, which expressly includes the librarians. I am hoping to return and to gain access to the reserve collection for detailed study of seam treatments on textile fragments between 1510 and 1530.

The museum has an excellent online collection with high quality images, which can also be licensed and obtained in high resolution. I was very lucky that the special exhibition 1515 Marignano had been extended, which fitted right into my current focus. No photos from the latter, photography was not allowed in there, but I can recommend the catalogue.

I will be posting photos that I am able to share, for fellow historical dress & textile enthusiasts.

Detail of chasuble
Detail of chasuble 1600-1800