This book is a visual survey of some of the delights of the V&A’s textile collection. It includes a couple of essays, then a listing of the plates with sizes and descriptions, then the plates themselves.
The first plate is of a piece that I have actually seen: a maniple dating from the 1900s, which I saw at Durham Cathedral, when visiting there in 2002. We just stumbled across the display, realising as we were there that these were actually extremely precious and significant embroideries. Quite a treat!
There are examples of ecclesiastical embroidery, a lot of metal embroidery, needlepoint tapestries, blackwork, counted thread samplers, sweetbags, silk shading, Elizabethan embroidery, crewel embroidery and more.
Whenever I want inspiration, or just to look at some really nice old things, this is one of the books I pull off my shelf. I just love it. I think that I bought it at the V&A when we were there on the same trip that we went to Durham Cathedral. I was there to research Mountmellick embroidery, as they have two examples at the V&A. But of course you can’t visit the V&A without a visit to the textile galleries and the bookshop!
I’d say this book is out of print these days, but its worth searching out one in your guild library or a second-hand copy.
“Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750″ from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Textile Collections, by Donald King and Santina Levey. ISBN: 1851771263