Leseprobe

216 The fashion of the 19th century showed great interest in costume history and historical patterns. The GRASSI Museums für Angewandte Kunst have this interest to thank for their extensive textile collection. Many objects that have to do with textile and fashion history were added to the graphics collection in the 19th century. Given the period’s enthusiasm for history, new editions of many historical pattern books were published, and the museum also acquired some of them. They include early printed works from the 16th and 17th centuries, such as the facsimile series Raccolta di Opere Antiche, sui disegni dei merletti di Venezia (Venice, from 1877) and the reprints of German pattern books such as the one by Johann Sibmacher (I.7). In the preface to the 1874 reprint of Sibmacher’s book, the publisher emphasised the work’s benefits: “[ … ] the patterns […] will be pioneering in schools, working groups for the decorative arts, in which drawing patterns, embroidery and ornamentation contribute to educating taste.”25 In 1879, Muster altdeutscher Leinenstickerei (Patterns of old German linen embroi- dery) was published in a series of volumes on embroidery techniques by Julius Lessing, the first director of the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin. As of the middle of the 19th century, historical clothing inspired modern fas- hion to an ever-greater extent. Most famous are the designs of the English fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth, who orientated his creations on depictions of clothing in paintings and actual historical pieces.26 In painting at the end of the 19th century, the preference for depictions that were as authentic as possible of the clothing of past eras led many artists to start their own collections of historical pieces. Margarete Loewe-Bethe, the pain- ter from Leipzig (1859–1932), must be mentioned here as a donor of his- torical textiles to the museum (II.7, II.12). In paintings such as Brautwerbung in historischen Interieur (Courtship in historical interior, 1878) and Mädchen mit Apfel (Girl with apple, 1884), she presented people wearing historical clothing in historical settings (Fig. 3). Clothing with history – traces Every piece of clothing has a story that encompasses its creation and use. The story can have many aspects, and the stories of historical objects can often be very long and full of biographical, cultural, and material-historical information. In art and cultural-historical research, such ‘object biographies’ have come into focus in recent years.27 They hold rich potential for story- telling , which is highly topical in museum education and mediation at pre- sent. Each catalogue entry tells about the history of the relevant object. Readers can embellish the information and be certain that future resear- chers will discover more about it. Pieces of haute couture clothing or representative, historical holiday clothing are presented as flawless looks and perfect creations, but these are only snapshots from the history of an object. The design and effort of the work that went into them have disappeared and traces of wear are not yet visible. However, the presentation at hand intends to direct attention to the stories and persons behind the objects. Upon close examination, the pro- duction process – the moment when the embroidery was created – becomes visible in many examples: the cartoon appears under the embroidery. Traces of wear also provide valuable information. Damage and soiling can be clues to earlier functions (II.5). Wax particles can be the product of historical surface treatment or use at candle-lit celebrations (Fig. 4). Transience and disintegration are also part of the story. Museums have the ambivalent task of keeping transience at bay in their role of preservation and conservation, but at the same time they must show the objects and tell their stories to others. The general public now has a different perception and understanding of traces of the past. The vintage trend has advanced to mainstream depart- ment stores and surfaces that have been wiped clean of all traces of time are boring.28 The objects here are presented in minimally restored condition and the traces of time have been preserved whenever possible. History of the collection and the city The collection and its objects are closely tied to the history of the city of Leipzig and its residents. A large number have come from private gifts to the museum. Committed persons were active in the museum association established in 1875 and supported the collection. Textiles accounted for the largest proportion by far of the objects in the annual catalogue of new acquisitions. In 1895, the collection already consisted of around 2,300 fabrics, embroideries, and trimmings, and 5,000 pieces of lace.29 Individu- als such as the painter Margarete Loewe-Bethe from Leipzig mentioned above, Oskar Mothes, the royal architect of Saxony (III.4), and Trude Buchs- baum, who is listed in the historical 1949 address directory as the owner of a dressmaking and costume rental business, can be reinterpreted as collectors of historical textiles by means of their donations.30 Many textiles were acquired in the art trade and at the major world’s fairs. The collection is structured according to period and must be viewed against the backg- round of the historical situation. This also applies to the 20th century and the present. The collection acquired many examples from other cultures (see Ch. IV.), as other museums of applied arts established in the second half of the 19th century did as well. However, many historical textiles were acquired in the region: in Leipzig and Saxony. These objects bear witness to the textile and fashion history of the city, which has not been the subject of much research. Unlike Dresden, in Leipzig the royal court was not the most important driver of fashion and textile production. Leipzig is located at the intersection of the two most important international trade routes from east to west and north to south. As the home of leading trade fairs, trading and internationally active tradesmen were the ones who introduced Leipzig to new textile products and fashions or produced them in the city as a means of ensuring that they were sold. For example, a silk embroiderer from Antwerp, Sebastian van der Velde, is documented in Leipzig in the 16th century.31 The silk embroiderer and painter Heinrich von Ryssel is a relevant name of the 17th century: he built the first gold and silver wire factory in Germany and was a key driver of metal thread production, which is essential for goldwork.32 In the 18th century, silk traders from Italy and France controlled the trade and production of textiles, making them responsible for setting the fashion as well. Leipzig became a centre for silk fabric, yarn, and thread. Of course, silk embroidery had a part to play. Johann Netto, a draughtsman from Leipzig, had specialised in the design of patterns and templates for embroidery on clothing and accessories. He attempted to hold his ground against the omnipresent dominance of French fashion. According to his claims, the embroiderers in Leipzig who stitched his templates were just as good as their colleagues in Lyon (I.8). In the 19th century, the textile trade and industry were expanded and made a significant contribution to the city’s economic upswing. Women and men who embroider – embroidery as a gender issue Embroidery is often considered a typical activity for women. As in many other areas, the 19th century is responsible for shaping this viewpoint. Textile handwork, knitting, and embroidering were appropriated as ideal activities for ‘the weaker sex’.33 This lore has biased our perception of the painter Louise Seidler (1786–1866) in the renowned painting Die Stickerin (The embroiderer, 1812) by Georg Friedrich Kersting, as she engages in the ‘typically feminine’ activity at the embroidery frame. We quickly box her into a specific image of women. Actually, Seidler moonlighted as an emb- roiderer in order to finance part of her painting course at a university in 25 Sibmacher 1604, Preface to the edition of 1874. 26 Zander-Seidel 2015, 26 et seq., Cat. no. 14, no. 16. 27 Boschung 2015; Seeberg/Wittekind 2017, 172 et seq. 28 Jenss 2015. 29 Thormann 2003, 50. 30 https://digital.slub-dresden.de/werk ansicht/dlf/84174/149 (15/10/2019). 31 Kroker 1925, 98. 32 Kroker 1925, 106. 33 Cat. Münster 1995, for example 151–157, 172–177. 34 Gärtner 1988; Kauffmann 2003.

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