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This glorious book is filled to the brim with a wide ranging history of textiles and 350 superb illustrations drawn from many countries and sources vestments and costume, samplers and pictures, great beds and furniture. The story of embroidery and needlework is discussed within the fascinating context of the history of fabrics, of decorative costume, of interior decoration, of church and state ceremonial, of girl's education, of furniture and pastimes. Silk, cotton, linen, and the significance of colours and dyes are also considered. Two interesting chapters reveal the world-wide fascination in an influence of Chinese embroidery and Indian textiles. With a broad account of the artistic achievements of every facet of decorative needlework the book is rich with the art-historical background encompassing the most magnificent of all embroidery, the mediaeval English vestments so coveted by Popes and Bishops across Europe, to the domestic treasures created in more recent centuries. Baroque, Rococo, neo-classical and other period characteristics are each discussed with reference to works created by children, young girls, and ladies who made furniture coverings destined for posterity. The nineteenth century saw extremes of art and fashion ranging from Berlin woolwork to Art Needlework and the eclectic inspiration represented by William Morris, all leading to simpler modernist styles which evolved over the twentieth century. The author sets in political and social context the whole panoply of textiles distinguishing between the magnificent products of professional workshops and the uniquely individual and especially charming amateur embroideries that survive today amongst the most beautiful treasures of the decorative arts. Mr Synge's text is authoritative but examines with infectious enthusiasm this field which has never been sufficiently understood but now interests more people than ever before. It will appeal to all who admire beautiful things, fine workmanship, good design and lovely fabrics.
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