Were you one of the lucky ones that made it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art before the end of April, 2009, to see the exhibit “Twixt Art and Nature”? I am still kicking myself that I didn’t make more of an effort to go, though in reality, I couldn’t have. The exhibit was well-covered in the news, more so than any other needlework exhibit I’ve ever heard about, anyway. And sprouting from the exhibit came a book….
English Embroidery from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580 – 1700: ‘Twixt Art and Nature is the name of the book. Despite the heavy title and the hefty size of the book, keep in mind that the era studied by the book is just slightly over 100 years of needlework! But what a fascinating era!
The book has been reviewed online on a number of needlework blogs and websites, so I’m not out to do a review here. I haven’t actually finished reading it yet, and I always like to read the books I review from cover-to-cover. (It’s a whole lot easier with stitch dictionaries and picture technique books – there isn’t as much reading involved!)
From what I’ve read so far, the book is fascinating – those interested in historical embroidery who like to read in-depth scholarly work will enjoy it. Those who are more interested in technique specifics and instruction might not enjoy it as well. Anyone interested in pictures of historical embroidery from this era will love it. The photos are beautiful.
I was reading the book the other day, and came upon part of a passage that brought to mind a good friend of mine, and made me think (with overwhelming enthusiasm!) that he would really enjoy this book. The passage was an insightful comment on history and art and I wish I had written it down. Anyway – a great wave of generosity swept over me, and I thought, “I am going to buy this book for him. He will like it.”
Last year, I sent copies of this book out to a couple friends as gifts. For me, I bought mine used, for about $35. And heck, it’s been six months, right? Used ones will probably be less expensive now, right? But I was willing to spend $35.
Needless to say, those momentary warm fuzzy feelings of generosity sapped right out of me!
You can still find the book new at Hedgehog Handworks, where they have their last batch available. The book is no longer in print, and it apparently won’t be reprinted. I don’t know how many they have in stock, but at least you know they are available through booksellers besides used book sources, and that, new, they are quite a bit less than the prices of even the used ones on Amazon, ABE books, and other rare book outlets.
If you aren’t quite ready to invest that type of money in a book, you can get a glimpse of some of the pieces in the exhibit in this nice little promotional video:
Though I didn’t make it to the exhibit, I’m happy I have my book.
And I’m happy I got it used.