Friday, September 2, 2016

Mood Indigo

Asia, workshop of Jacob van der Borcht, Brussels
Coincidentally (since my previous post was on the "blue Goethe"), I had the occasion to see today the Mood Indigo exhibition at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. (Yes, I am back in the U.S., visiting relatives before returning to New York on Sunday). In the exhibition are 89 textiles from lightest to deepest blue from all over the world. The tapestry at the top, representing "Asia," is one of four monumental Flemish tapestries, with the continents personified by female figures, each wearing blue. The late 17th-century tapestry is the kind that Goethe might have seen, for instance, in Strassburg, as he relates in Book 9 of Poetry and Truth.

The Mysterious Draught of Fishes, studio of Pieter van Aelst
Shortly after his arrival in Strassburg in 1770, Marie Antoinette passed through the city on her bridal journey to Paris. A special hall was raised for her reception in which were hung tapestries based on cartoons by Raffael. They had been commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1515 and were to be hung in the Sistine Chapel. In his autobiography Goethe mentions that he returned on several occasions to see the tapestries. Nicholas Boyle calls Goethe's viewing of them his "first glimpse of Rome." As Goethe wrote: "I became acquainted with the true and the perfect on a large scale, though only in copies." The Vatican tapestries, representing scenes from the lives of Saints Peter and Paul, were woven in the workshop of Pieter van Aelst.

Herewith two others highlights from Mood Indigo.

Yoruban cloth
Japanese kimono

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