Until August 26, an exhibition from the Hermitage funds “Fantasies in Threads. Lace and glass of Western Europe of the 16th-19th centuries”.
The exposition, presenting more than 70 exhibits, for the first time shows and in an original way brings together the works of only two types of applied art of Western Europe of the 16th-19th centuries, completely polar and seemingly incompatible - lace and glass.
They are united by the proximity of ornamental patterns created with thread. In lace, it is the main material from which the products themselves are made, and in glass, it is one of the types of sophisticated decor. It was the thread in this union that was able not only to connect such different objects, but in each of them emphasize the grace, sophistication of form and imagination in the development of patterns.
Ornaments, although they differ in a large number of variations, are based on simple geometric shapes - a circle - from rosettes to stars and a strip - either straight or wavy, in the form of curls and bows. The masters of lace-making and glass blowers could borrow all the variety of patterns from collections of ornaments that appeared in Europe since the 16th century. In some, the already set form and decor of the product were proposed, in others the emphasis was on the play of imagination and the bold flight of thought. The play of lines, first embodied in the “knots” of Leonardo da Vinci, was developed by Dürer and craftsmen from other countries, and was reflected both in compositions of threads in lace and in glass decor. Over the centuries, the interpretation of patterns from lines has changed, acquiring the characteristic features of its time, it became heavy, then light and playful.
It is known that the first lace appeared from embroidery at the end of the 15th - beginning of the 16th century. Pulling and slitting techniques, which made embroidered products look delicate, gave impetus to the development of lace as an independent production. The threads, as it were, separated from their base - linen fabric - and began to float in the air. Even the technique in which they were performed was called a stitch in the air. Almost simultaneously, at the turn of the century, another technique for making lace appeared - bobbin weaving. Lace was mainly light - from white to ivory, as well as colored, black and metallic - from silver or gilded thread. Linen lace, sewn and braided, was famous in Italy at an early stage. In lace, mainly Italian, of the 16th-17th centuries, preference was given to patterns of circles, stars, rosettes, which were sewn with a needle from light linen threads. Stars and circles formed the basis of the most common design of the Renaissance - reticello.
It is interesting to note that this term was used not only in lace decoration, but also in the name of one of the well-known techniques for making glass. Milky mesh - the decor that made Venice famous for centuries was called "vetro reticello". Later, this type of pattern was picked up in Spain. The most expressive compositions of this kind became in lace "salt" (from Spanish sol - sun) of the Spanish production of the 17th century. At the same time, in Flanders, which was famous for woven lace made of the finest linen, small circles and stars densely filled the background nets, which were called "snow" backgrounds.
В XVIII веке эти геометрические формы нашли себе место в обрамлении цветочных мотивов, вживленных в резервы. Кроме того, их использовали в новации XVIII века – на сетке тюля, украсив ее так называемыми «мушками». В XVIII веке также активно вводили в декор полоски, от прямых до причудливых завитков-рокайлей. В более позднее время, в ХIХ веке розетки или овальные медальоны выстраивали в цепочки и соединяли с гирляндами в узоре брюссельских аппликаций. Ими украшали и французские кружева, как светлые из льняных нитей (из Алансона, Аржантана и др.), так и из шелка черного цвета (шантильи).
In glass, preference was generally given to the play of lines in stripes, where it was possible to emphasize the dignity of the thread itself. In designs in the form of feathers or in the form of festoons, the lines thickened to wide rounded stripes, which looked contrasting against colored backgrounds, especially blue. But the glory of glass was nevertheless brought by a thin thread of milky glass, invented in the first half of the 16th century on Murano. It was placed either in a vortex of concentric circles resembling Leonard's "knots", or lined up the pattern diagonally, or laid in clear rows of nets.
The so-called filigree thread has become a special pride of Venetian glass. Already in the second half of the 16th century, the new technique became known in various regions of Europe. In the German lands, where the center of European glassmaking moved, they developed their own simplified form of the famous Venetian technique. Bohemian craftsmen in the second half of the 17th century often decorated their works with diagonally arranged threads of multicolored glass. In the Iberian Peninsula, the Venetian filigree technique became known in the second half of the 17th century. In Catalonia, on its basis, a unique style of decorating expensive utensils with milk glass threads was created. Spanish craftsmen have made a rosette in glass, reminiscent of "salt" lace, as a bright motif. By the end of the 18th century, with the advent of classicism,filigree in most European countries was finally ousted from the arsenal of decorative glass making techniques. Attempts to revive the ancient art of working with thread have been made in Italy since the 30s. XIX century. And today, artists continue to turn to the famous technique, creating on its basis new original artistic images aimed at the future.
The works presented at the exhibition, varying in color, from monochrome to brightly colored, make it possible to appreciate the imagination of European masters who, using thread, created vivid images both in glass and in lace.
To the exhibition “Fantasies in Threads. Lace and glass of Western Europe of the 16th-19th centuries”. a scholarly illustrated catalog was prepared (State Hermitage Publishing House, 2018, 208 pages), preceded by an introductory article by the exhibition curators, as well as a film.
The curators of the exhibition are Tatyana Nikodimovna Kosourova, Head of the Sector of Decorative and Applied Arts of the Department of Western European Applied Art of the State Hermitage and Elena Anatolyevna Anisimova, Senior Researcher in the Department of Western European Applied Art.
Luxurious exhibition “Fantasies in threads. Lace and glass from Western Europe of the 16th-19th centuries”is open almost all summer!
The first Thursday of every month is free.
According to the press service of the State Hermitage.