HNW - stumpwork

Betty Pillsbury flyingneedle at
Thu Sep 3 07:05:47 PDT 1998

I also love stumpwork, embosted work, raised work, whatever you want to
call it and have made a few pieces a la Jane Nicholas.  In a book put
out by the Art Institute of Chicago entitled "Embroidery Masterworks",
by Virginia Churchill Bath, pages 19-24 show a extremely detailed
retable and altar frontal dated 1468.  Here is part of the description:

"The angel on page 22 and the Nativity on page 26 are both Spainish
embroideries from Burgo de Osma altar set.  Scenes from the life of
Christ appear on the dossal (back panel) and antependium (altar frontal)
of this embroidery masterwork.  The coat of arms in enframing medallions
around the outer edge of the upper portion of the work identify the set
as the propert of Don Pedro de Montoya, Bishop of Osma, for whom it wsa
originally made.  Inscriptions on the frontal read: "Remember, O man,
that Jesus suffered these pains for you." and "The Lord indeed is risen
and appeared to Simon."  Although the drawing of these needleworks is
medieval and provincial, in their naturalism they reveal traces of
Flemish Gothicism, which by the time they were made in 1468 had been
comfortably assimilated the national idiom.

And further...
A variety of threads - silk floss, tightly twisted and plied silk, and
metal - were worked into a base of linen, completely covering it.
Spangles made from circles of flattened wire, jewels, beads, and pearls
also were used.  The stitching used in this work is complex: split,
chain, knot, and a variety of satin stitches, couching, and laid work.
Light-capturing metal threads enlived and enriched the surface.

Betty P.
mailto:flyingneedle at


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