Missing Frida Hansen Transparencies in Hawaii

The recent discovery of Frida Hansen’s missing tapestry, Southward (Sørover),* was a marvelous find, but it wasn’t her only work that is missing in America. I wrote recently about a tapestry that was sold to the Honolulu Academy of Art in 1925, “A Fugitive Frida Hansen Tapestry in Hawaii–Some More Clues.”

Looking for that tapestry brought up another mystery. It turns out that when the Honolulu Academy of Art purchased The Little Mermaid in 1925, they also purchased a set of portieres.

The piece [The Little Mermaid] was purchased along with 2 other pieces by Frida Hansen, a ‘Double Wool Portiere’ described as “Pair. Wool. colors: coral, rose, purple, yellowish-brown, red-brown and white. Repeat pattern of triangular-shaped vases holding conventionalized flowers, in tapestry weave, with background of white warp threads. Border of conventionalized scroll pattern. Fringe of warp threads on each end.”

From the records of the Honolulu Academy of Art

These must be curtains in Frida Hansen’s signature wool open warp transparency style. Hansen’s transparency designs were often woven several times. When I did not recognize the pattern described, I wrote to Anniken Thue, Hansen’s biographer. Anniken did not recognize the pattern either, so I can’t supply an image of these portieres–which of course we would also like to find.

I can’t show you a photo of the actual portieres that were owned by the Honolulu Academy of Art, so here is other eye candy. These wool transparencies are owned by the Nasjonalmuseet in Oslo.

Frida Hansen. Fantasy Flowers (Fantasiblomster), 1903. https://www.nasjonalmuseet.no/samlingen/objekt/OK-1992-0053
This set of portieres is titled Fest (party or celebration). https://www.nasjonalmuseet.no/samlingen/objekt/OK-1978-0373
“Margariter” (daisies) https://www.nasjonalmuseet.no/samlingen/objekt/OK-15945

The portieres owned by the Honolulu Academy of Art (now the Honolulu Museum of Art) were deaccessioned and sold to a local buyer on April 20, 1954. If you know anyone in Hawaii with a lovely set of wool transparencies designed by Frida Hansen, let me know!

*See these articles about Southward (Sørover) in the Norwegian Textile Letter. A Missing Frida Hansen Tapestry Rediscovered. Close Encounters with Frida Hansen’s Swans and Maidens. Finding Frida Hansen’s Colors Again: Cleaning Southward. Southward on Display. Frida Hansen: A Brief Biography