We were having lunch in Minneapolis at a new restaurant called the Copper Hen when we all spontaneously said “Oh! We’re just around the corner from the MIA- shall we go?” I just love it when that happens!
So off we went and, when we got there, I went to look at embroidery and textiles, my daughter and her husband to look at a drawing exhibition and my husband to read a book about the lost mansions of Minneapolis.
I went straight up to Gallery 332 because that’s where I knew the embroidered casket was displayed. Although I’m not doing any 16th or 17 century embroidery right now, I admire the workmanship and love the whimsy of the stump work that was used to decorate these delightful boxes.
The casket is displayed closed so I got to enjoy the delightful figures on the outside. There are also fruit, flowers and other flora but I’m especially drawn to the figures of people.
This lovely lady, with her patterned dress, lacy collar and curly hair seems to be requesting something which I am sure he will grant! Who could resist that sweet face?!
The King or Lord looks charming – see those big, sparkling eyes? Is he flirting? I especially love his scepter! It looks a lot like a misshapen rolling pin and if I were that butterfly, I’d move away quickly!
The man on the horse, above, is carrying either a fishing rod or a bent sword – I’m betting on a sword. Doesn’t his horse look gentle? And his friend in the background seems quite jolly, going along his merry way.
This herald is so theatrical, gesturing with his hand while blowing his trumpet. Ta -da–ta-da-da-da-da-da! He announcing the entrance of the man on the horse and what a beautiful horse it is!
However, all of this is my imagination working overtime! The story depicted on the casket is, from the MIA collections information page, as follows;
“This piece, one of the finest of its kind, tells the Old Testament story of Queen Esther, whose intelligence and diplomacy saved her people from persecution. The box was added to the institute’s collection on the occasion of Mary Ann Butterfield’s retirement, to honor her work as the museum’s textile conservator.”
I so admire the imagination and skill of whomever embroidered this piece. The faces are all so lively! The people really seem to have personalities! Someday I’d like to embroider a stump work person. Anna Scott has just finished one that I love!
Have you ever done a stump work figure? Is it difficult? Did you like how he or she looked when you were finished?