Upon entering “Interwoven Globe”, a three-century survey of textiles currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you will feel that you are witnessing history unfold around you. The textiles from around the globe are dispersed throughout nine galleries, mounted on walls or isolated behind glass; wherever they are displayed — or wherever they come from — fables are woven in the lines of painted palampores, embroidered quilts, textured dresses, and morning gowns.
This exhibit leaves a lasting impression similar to whimsical fairytales: the journey through the exhibit leaves enough open to the imagination to create its own story. With so many diverse cultures and traditions represented, the scope of the exhibition can be overwhelming if your time is limited. Here are a few of my favorites to look for:
Morning Gown, Japan for the Dutch of Trade, ca. 1725-75
The gown is made of silk and sewn together with a silk filling embedded in the silk lining. Dyed and painted with golden flowers atop a silky powder blue background, the gown appeared to be very cozy and warm. I could imagine a sophisticated Japanese man pulling this decorative morning gown on over his pajamas, shuffling throughout his house with house shoes on.
Length Of Cotton, India, ca. 1710-50
This length of cotton from 18th-century India, painted and resisted with mordant dye, is like a maze. The viewer’s eye travels up and down and along the perfect curved lines, floral shapes, and color patterns.
Pictorial Carpet, Iran Safavid period (1501-1722), 17th century
The trees on this textile are crafted with stars and painted with color that seems a mix of royal and electric blues. With gold silk, metal wrapped thread brocade, this print stands out and captivates the viewer. Made up of 1,025 knots per square inch, its purpose was to expand diplomatic and commercial contacts with Europe.
Painting by Agostino Brunias, 1728-1796
Towards the end of the nine-gallery, 134-artifact exhibit is a trio of oil canvas paintings. Remarkably delicate, they were fresh and clean looking, and represented freedom and unity between Dominican and West Indian women: all of the women were working together in their fresh white cotton textiles. This piece by Agostino Brunias envisions how the women would connect and communicate with one another if they had not been enslaved by Europeans. In the painting, he sets them free.
There are a plethora of other pieces, as well, all worth researching online or catching at the exhibit. The Toilet Of The Princess was a popular piece that people gawked at; attributed to John Vanderbank, it was made out of tapestry weave. The Versailles tapestries came to life on chairs and love seats, depicting four different continents. And the Dress Robe (a’ l’ Anglaise) was made in America in 1785-95 out of Indian textiles during the second half of the 18th century. Every vine, leaf and flower on this Baroque dress was meticulously painted. The exhibit ends on Sunday January 5th, 2014, so go while you still can.