Wednesday, September 8, 2010

L’Expostion Universelle

John Hart, Assistant Curator of Collections

One way or another, most everyone has heard of the World’s Fairs whether from our grandparents, great grandparents, or maybe even experienced them first hand. Many monuments still stand from those cultural events, like Memorial Hall at Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, now home to the Please Touch Museum, the Space Needle in Seattle, and perhaps the best recognized monument of them all, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

Built in 1889 and designed by Gustave Eiffel, the tower was seen as an eyesore to Parisians and was destined to be torn down in 1909, but city officials in Paris saw its potential for communication antennas, a purpose which it still serves today, and spared the tower from becoming scrap.

This intricately embroidered ribbon depicting the Eiffel Tower, made in 1889 by Marcoux et Chateauneuf, is one of the rarely-seen treasures in our collections. The files don’t seem to indicate why exactly the ribbon was accepted into the collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, but as a study of embroidery techniques, it’s definitely a wonderful object to examine.

Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York. N0668.1963

Based on what I found through several searches, it appears that we have an “advertising weaving,” something that I’ve seen several times in our collection, but never with this much detail. A book on Google Books lists the company Marcoux et Chateauneuf of St. Etienne as exhibit number 287 with fancy ribbons and velvets as part of their display for the 1893 Columbia World’s Fair.

Try as I might, I couldn’t find the company referenced anywhere else, at least not by the name they used in 1889; I couldn’t even find this ribbon anywhere online either. It seems strange that the closest name I could find was a wine maker - probably not what the company was doing in 1893 or 1899. Either way we have an interestingly embroidered object that’s good for study, but is also nice to look at too.

No comments:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin