ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History   /  publications

Art hand embroidery in St.Gallen
a paper, given at the CIETA meeting of 1995 in Lyon, France, by Anne Wanner-JeanRichard

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  Anna Nef and Anna Schelling
  Anna Nef, former student of Helene Weidenmüller, now taught needlework and some special courses in wool embroidery, fine whitework embroidery and coloured embroidery. Drawing and painting classes were given by Elise Rüdin, also a former student. The collaboration with machine embroidery is not mentioned any longer, and Anna Nef now pursued now the aim of moving "from the merely dilettantish way of doing things towards well-founded expertise". The students were still called dilettantes but this name was soon changed into that of "professional students". The ladies were successful at the Swiss National Exhibition of 1896 in Geneva, where they won a golden medal.

Unfortunately it is not absolutely clear which works were done during Anna Nef's time. Some dated embroideries of the late 1890s still show the influence of historism. Both in machine embroidery and in hand embroidery, too, we find art nouveau only as an exception. On the other hand, the influence of Japan and its decorative art can be traced. Very probably this influence came from magazines like "Le Japon artistique", published in Paris by Samuel Bing. This magazine could be found in the library of St.Gallen from its first number in 1888.

  Anna Nef left the school in autumn 1896 because of her marriage. She was followed by Anna Schelling (1873-1960). She was also a former student of the school and she stayed there until her retirement in 1935. The success in Geneva in 1896 brought an increase in the number of students. In 1900 the class won a "grand prix" in Paris and later on a silver medal at the national exhibition of Berne in 1914.

Since December 1905 the wish of the former teacher Anna Nef could be realised and after a two year course the regular female students could sit an exam for a diploma in embroidery. Anna Schelling worked out a training programme which remained virtually unchange until her retirement in 1935. This can be seen from the work of former students which was bequeathed to the museum's collections from several estates. In the 1940s the classes lost their popularity and in 1961 the artistic embroidery department was closed.


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content Last revised 15 August, 2004