ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History   /  book reviews, articles

  Berliner Stickereien des Biedermeier. Entwicklung und gesellschaftliche Bedeutung, von Uta-Christiane Bergemann, in: Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen, 2002, erschienen 2004, Berlin, S. 93-128, 28 pictures (black and white and coloured), in german language
  The author points to all the technical changes occuring from 1800 until 1860, like:
- Embroidery technique: crossstitch instead of satin and chain stitch
- New type of pattern made on squared paper
- Patterns coloured by hand at first and printed later on
- Berlin wool was soft and fleecy and capable of taking brilliant dyes
- Cotton canvas as a fabric
- Development in publishing and editing patterns

The main purpose of Bergemann is, trying to answer the question: whether or not the embroidery of 1820 - 1860 was a phenomena of a middle class culture. There are practically no inventories of middle class houses, she therefore deals with fittings and setups of castles in Pottsdam near Berlin. The castle of Charlottenburg was built 1826 - 29 after designs of K.F. Schinkel and specially the living room was decorated with many embroideries. These were worked by the court ladies during social meetings in the evenings.

In the years around 1820 embroidery pattern became very fashionable. Some letters of court ladies of this period point to the fact that elements of patterns were put together according to the ladies own opinions. Motives of the 19th c. had their predecessors in classic times in the embroidery of nobility, in 19th c. however precious materials were no longer in use. The embroideresses came from middle class houses and they already had an education, knowledge and skill in embroidery. It very soon also became a possibility of earning money and also to improve the housekeeping means.
Embroidery became an important part in the way of living and was identified not only with female activity, but with woomanhood itself.

In the castle of "Sans Souci", situated in Pottsdam near Berlin as well, the embroideries preserved are too even and equal to be worked by hand. In Berlin some shops sold finished or half finished embroideries. In the course of the 19th c. also the ways of production were simplified, numbers of colours were reduced and there was less variation regarding the motives.


Lady, embroidering, drawing,
Berlin around 1830, by Louise Henry

Embroidery room of Princess Marianne of Prussia,
Aquarelle, around 1840, by F. Fischbach


Detail of fire screen, Berlin around 1796


Part of embroidered sopha,
living room Charlottenhof, Pottsdam, near Berlin

Embroidery pattern, publisher Ludwig Wilhelm Wittich,
around 1828


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