The things museums forget to mention (plus NaNoWriMo)

posted in: Creativity, Spinning, Writing | 3

Today my daughter and I went on a field trip that included the "Artisans and Kings" traveling exhibit of objects from the Louvre that will be at the Denver Art Museum until January 6, 2008.

In general, I prefer folk art to more opulent works, but I figured (and I was right) that there would be things in the exhibit that I’d love. There were two statues from the Roman Empire (1st and 2nd centuries CE), a bunch of drawings large and small, a wonderful Titian painting ("Woman with Mirror," 1515), and an exquisite Rembrandt: "Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels" (c. 1654).

(It’s not this painting, although there is some interesting historical/biographical information at this site. This is the work, although Rembrandt’s paintings are impossible to capture in any medium other than the original.)

The Rembrandt was worth the trip.

The longer I looked at the portrait, the more I expected the woman to blink her eyes. It’s not that she was so realistically painted, but that she was so humanely depicted.

I noticed one oddity about the exhibit that most people probably wouldn’t think to remark upon. My eyes have been trained to notice this. Even though many textiles were present throughout the many rooms of the show, for the most part they were ignored in the documentation.

The exception was the tapestries. There were several grand Gobelins flat tapestries, and one mighty wonderful piece woven in very fine pile. It’s hard to dismiss the textile content of a tapestry.

However, for the times represented in this show, all of the fabrics would have been constructed (by hand) from handspun yarn, dyed with natural dyes.

The case for a set of beverage utensils (for making chocolate, tea, and the like) was lined with very fine velvet (it appeared to be silk). No mention, of course. It was a plain velvet.

Then again, the material from which an exquisite chair was constructed was listed as "gilded walnut." This specification overlooked the handspun, hand-dyed, extremely fine and intricately patterned cut velvet with which the chair was upholstered. The upholstery contributed a lot more to the mass of the chair than the delicately carved and decorated wood. I can’t find a link for that chair but this one was also there, with a similar notation: "gilt beech."

Well, yes, in part. . . .

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My posts during November will be less frequent and shorter than usual (thus balancing out October).

I’ll be participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the third year in a row.

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This is not a sane thing to do. I’m sane too much of the time, so once again I am indulging in this one-month fictional blitz of goals-without-expectations. For thirty days, the inner editor goes out the window (along with the outer editor) for an hour or so every day (I type really fast and the writing doesn’t have to be good, for a change).

I’ll be here. Just not as much as I am elsewhere.

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3 Responses

  1. Sometimes when I’m doing spinning demos, I like to remind people that Magellan and Columbus sailed the world on handspun sails.

  2. Yup, they sure did. And they wore handspun clothes and slept in handspun blankets and used handspun ropes. . . .

  3. Who are you at NaNo? I’m quoe2…. how’s your wordcount? And what are you writing?? Me? A modern novel inspired by the contemoorary West, organic farming, and…. pioneer ghosts. 😉

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