Marseille: White Corded Quilting, November 13, 2010 to May 22, 2011

Marseille: White Corded Quilting, November 13, 2010 to May 22, 2011

02 Nov 2010    

Marseille: White Corded Quilting, the first major display in the world of all-white quilted and corded French needlework, will explore its development in Marseilles, the fusion of technique with design imagery, and the integration of this needlework into other cultures as it was exported, adopted and re-transformed over three centuries in three continents.

These supple, all-white corded and quilted furnishings-from bedcovers to quilted bodices and caps-grew out of the thriving textile traded centered on Frances Mediterranean port of Marseilles. During the the seventeenth century, the region's interpretation of quilted needlework became so treasured that it seduced markets throughout Europe and its far-flung colonies.

Broderie de Marseille is a form of three-dimensional textile sculpture using plain white cloth and white cotton cording, deftly manipulated with needle and thread to reveal patterns highlighted by the resulting play of light and shadow on the textile surface. Skillful execution of broderie de Marseille resulted in delicate, refined work that graced the homes an figures of aristocrats and launched an international passion for all-white corded needlework. The quilted works were filled with imagery expressing contemporary values, such as folk legends (Tristan), heraldic devices and royal monograms (on bedcovers), and floral wreaths an fruits symbolizing good fortune and fertility (on wedding quilts). Contemporary versions, today often referred to as "matelasse," are machine made and thus lack the intimate connections to the work represented by the confections of the original needleworkers-almost all of them presumably women.

College of Education and Human Sciences