ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History / publications

World exhibitions and design, 1851 - 1878, as shown in publications from Leipzig
published in: CIETA-Bulletin No 75, 1998, p. 153 - 160, by Anne Wanner-JeanRichard

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  The later 19th century    
  Changes in design are illustrated in the exhibition catalogues of the later 19th century, which also record the continuing debate about good taste and arguments over the relative merits of hand and machine-made goods.

As already noted, until about 1855 only hand embroideries were shown in the Swiss sections of the international exhibitions, but in 1862 two Swiss manufacturers exhibited machine products and, at Vienna in 1873, there were twenty such exhibitors. By 1889, it was believed that hand embroidery would completely disappear, although this was partly disproved by the Swiss National Exhibition of 1914, where hand embroidery was exhibited as a speciality of the canton of Appenzell.

It is not easy to trace how the Swiss designers dealt with the change from hand to machine embroidery; one group, born around 1820 and active around 1850, designed exclusively for handwork; others, born around 1850, studied at the School of Design and, if they later worked in a factory, they probably designed only for machines. Yet others, became freelance designers working with both hand and machine embroidery, although there were certainly more commissions for industrial products.

The late 19th century revulsion against machine goods certainly led some artists to concentrate on handwork and the painter, Hans Christian Ulrich (1880-1950), for example, was one of those who sought to revive the Appezell industry in the early 20th century, employing only hand-embroiderers in his atelier.

  From about 1878, an increasing number of manufacturers became sceptical of the value of the international exhibitions. Those who were already large and successful had no need of them and preferred to keep their new products and designs secret and safe from copyists.

For such reasons, the Swiss manufacturers initially declined to take part in the Paris exhibition of 1889, although some were persuaded to do so by the Chamber of Commerce.

The production of St Gallen was by then well known; foreign customers visited the town several times a year, while the Swiss embroidery manufacturers maintained representatives in most large foreign towns.
All were agreed that the forstering of good design in Switzerland was the responsibility of the St Gallen School of Design; most ot the designers were trained there and it was there that the intellectual leadership of the Swiss embroidery industry was to be found.


  London Designers Reports Machines Style Later 19th c.  

content Last revised July 29, 2004