Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rogier van der Weyden, embroidered pillows?

Yesterday I visited the Rogier van der Weyden Exhibition in Leuven, Belgium. It was interesting, with some beautiful paintings, scuplture and embroidery.

This blogpost is called embroidered pillows, because my attention was drawn by a detail from The seven sacraments (ca 1440-1445). In the left corner of the painting, where the 7th sacrament is depicted, a dying man lies in bed on a pile of pillows. When I looked at it closely, I thought that maybe the seams of these pillows were embroidered with some kind of interlacing stitch. Unfortunately, the picture of this painting in the Web Gallery of Art is not very detailed:

Seven Sacraments (right wing)

Oil on oak panel, 119 x 63 cm
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp

This type of pillow appears again in another painting by (the workshop of?) Van der Weyden: the Madonna of the dyptich of Jean the Gros. (this painting is not part of the exhibition). This time, the on-line picture is more detailed:

Portrait Diptych of Jean de Gros (left wing)

Oil on oak panel, 36 x 27 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tournai

Interlacing stitches were used to sew pieces of linen fabric together in a decorative way. There are some examples of tablecloths, and of course the cap of St Birgitte.

I wonder whether these type of stitches were also used for pillow cases? If you know more about this, please let us know!


Anonymous said...

I have seen this on a number of pillow images; in the cases where the stitch is very simple (just a single back-and-forth across the 'open' seam) I always assumed that this was just the closure for the pillowcase. Albeit a very decorative one! At one point I set up a sample version and found that this worked very well for holding a pillow inside a case - but I do not actually know if covered pillows (in cases) were correct or not...

Machteld said...

Thanks for commenting. I'm curious to see your sample version :-) If you have pictures, please let us know!.

Racaire said...

...maybe you could be also interested into this pillow I discovered at one of the paintings at the KHM:
best regards :)

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