HNW - Beading,Smocking in German painting

Mike Newell 72123.411 at compuserve.com
Tue Oct 21 18:57:21 PDT 1997


Dear List:

Since my Laurel is in garb research, I've looked at millions and billions
of portraits and paintings. If you want source material for
beading/pearling and smocking, try German and Flemish painting. My sewing
room has a lovely poster of a painting of "Judith" by Cranach. She is
wearing lots of what look like steel beads or seed pearls  over her outfit.
>From what I've seen of German artwork of the Renaissance, there was of a
passion for pearling things to death. When it isn't on the garb, it's
loading down the headdresses and hats.

Ummm- just remembered. This isn't just a Renaissance trend.I was looking
through some huge, unwieldy Victorian books on medieval embroidery and
found some plates (in a German book) showing beaded cuffs with metal
plaques, very much like the ones in the Maria Schuettte book. Just FYI.

German art is one of the few places I've seen smocking used on chemises or
shirt fronts. There is a portrait of Durer showing a shirt front that is
quite defintely smocked and only in the front -- his doublet has slipped
and you can see that it stops where it doesn't have to impress anyone <g>.

Many years ago I saw an Italian painting, on loan, to the Fogg Art Museum,
Harvard. It was a painting c.1525, of an Italian condottiere. His shirt
neckband was smocked, but not as we think of smocking -- it was gathered
up, but then it was embroidered quite solidly over  in the design of a
black rose with twining vine. You could "just" see the gathering here and
there so you see that it was gathered underneath.

So, if you want Renaissance beadwork embroidery, or smocking details, try
searching German art books. If the card catalog stumps you, the German word
for embroidery is "stickerei".

Hope this is helpful.

- --Kathryn
SCA: Kathryn Goodwyn
"too many centuries...too little time"
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