Sunday, February 25, 2018

Silk Artifacts from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Hat with Morning Glories and Sweet Peas by Elsa Schiaparelli
ca. 1948-52
silk satin
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Dolman Coat by Madame Drugeon, Paris
ca. 1880-85
quilted silk trimmed with pared ostrich feather
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Drapery Tie-back with Tassels
by Le Mirepère et Fils

ca. 1850-60
braided silk cord
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Needlework Purse on Steel Frame
ca. 1825
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

ca. 1820
silk gauze
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam


I keep the books in a silk factory
for my employer, Herr Bernhard. The work
is not hard, but I suffer, feeling I was made
for finer things. All day
I hunch like a spider over my ledger.
I dip my pen into the well
– this pen that could be used to spar or sing –
drawing out of the black pool a line, thin
as a thread, fine as baby's hair.
This columned page for warp
and woof, it is my own death
I weave here, winding myself
in a shroud of silk. Soon I shall sleep
the sleep of the worm, without thought
or dream. Sometimes I wonder
how so many tiny deaths
are daily woven into cloth so thin,
so light, it seems almost a substance
of the spirit. Then I dip my pen
for penance in the well and plod
again across the rows of numbers
until every shred and pennysworth's
accounted for.

– Jean Nordhaus (1993)

Wedding Dress worn by Helena Slicher
embroidered silk
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

French Shoes
ca. 1725-50
silk damask
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Hangings for Dolls' House Bed
ca. 1750
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Bed Hangings
ca. 1700
silk velvet, silk taffeta
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Tapestry of Sea Battle by Josse de Vos
ca. 1715-34
silk and wool
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Tapestry fragment from The Seasons (May, June) by Everaert Leyniers
ca. 1650-80
silk and wool
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Purse with Iris Motif
ca. 1675-1700
silk embroidery
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Painter on Silk

There was a man
Who made his living
By painting roses
Upon silk.

He sat in an upper chamber
And painted,
And the noises of the street
Meant nothing to him.

When he heard bugles, and fifes, and drums,
He thought of red, and yellow, and white roses
Bursting in the sunshine,
And smiled as he worked.

He thought only of roses,
And silk.

When he could get no more silk,
He stopped painting
And only thought
Of roses.

The day the conquerors
Entered the city
The old man
Lay dying.
He heard the bugles and drums
And wished he could paint the roses
Bursting into sound.

– Amy Lowell (1915)

Heraldic Tunic attributed to Johan Pietersz Smout
for the funeral of Prince Frederick Hendrick of Orange-Nassau

embroidered silk
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Head of Bearded Old Man by Jan Lievens
ca. 1630-32
etching printed on silk
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Poems from the archives of Poetry (Chicago)