HNW - Pictures of Knitting

SNSpies@aol.com SNSpies at aol.com
Thu Sep 3 21:34:31 PDT 1998


Hello.

A while back, there was a brief discussion about historical pictures of
knitted items.  I would like to quote from a letter I just received from
Santina M. Levey concerning this question.  

"The only portrait of which I know in which it is possible to detect a knitted
object is a portrait of King Eric XIV of Sweden, painted c. 1560 which is in
the National Museum, Stockholm.  If you peer closely the rows of loops on his
red silk knitted stockings are just visible - but they do not show up in any
photographs.

"I suspect that in other examples of 16th and 17th century portraits of men
wearing knitted hose, such faint marks have been cleaned off by over-zealous
'restorers'.  It is a fiddle to paint such textural details but 16th and 17th
century artists were amazingly good at it. Other garments that were knitted
but which do not appear so include the shaped caps worn by men and shown in
many of Holbein's portraits.  The knitting does not show because it was
heavily felted to form a smooth water-proof surface and then cut and shaped
like cloth.

"There probably are a few surviving portraits in which knitting is still
represented but they are likely to be uncleaned pictures so the darkened
varnish is probably obscuring the detail.  But it is worth keeping a look-
out!"

Nancy
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