A Painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Spinning Gets a Bum Rap?

A highlight of my trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this week was the Renaissance tapestry exhibit, “Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry.” (My visit is described more fully here), but I enjoyed other textile-related exhibits and art works.  A small exhibit, Examining Opulence: A Set of Renaissance Tapestry Cushions, displayed both the front and back sides of the tapestries in acrylic cases. The color differences were fascinating.  The cushions looked fairly vibrant, but when you see the unfaded pinks and greens of the back side you can understand how much detail is lost in the images over time.  And it would be so marvelous to see the full effect of the threads that were wrapped in silver, now disintegrated.  Sadly, that exhibit ends today, but thanks to the Met blog, you can read more about this fabulous exhibit: “How Curators and Conservators Look at a Tapestry,” and “The Dyes Have It: Exploring Color and Tapestries.”

Tapestry cushion back: notice especially the vibrant pinks that fade to tan on the front


Even without the blockbuster tapestry exhibit, there are many tapestries throughout the galleries.  So many are so huge!  For more dramatically large-scale textiles, visit the Near East galleries and see Persian rugs that seem as big as public swimming pools.  I saw a very interesting Turkish tapestry from the fourteenth century (it seems I always favor the most-difficult-to-photograph items under glass).  I liked the “Confronted Animal Rug” image with animals within animals.


And finally, here’s a textile-related find in the Bartholomeus Spranger: Splendor and Eroticism in Imperial Prague exhibit.  A painting from 1585, “Hercules and Omphale,” shows the triumphant goddess who has enslaved poor Hercules, forcing him to wear a pink dress and spin on a spindle.  Omphale carries a club and sports a lion skin, though I don’t think it’s keeping her warm.

IMG_9083I’m home in Minnesota now, on a day that is warmer, sunnier and more beautiful that any of our days in New York.  And I’m looking forward to next year.

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