Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fresco of Italian Women at Work - 1940

It's funny how one thing leads to another. Many times when I start out researching one thing, I end up discovering several other things of interest.

I have been trying to find a copy of the 1939 publication: Il lavoro di ricamo alla VII Triennale di Milano, Milano. Catalogo della mostra. [The work of embroidery at the 7th Triennial of Milan. Exhibition Catalogue] because I'm sure it will have lots of photos of Piero Fornasetti's designs that were executed in Piave Embroidery on Tulle.

I'm also interested in seeing the other Italian needlework that was exhibited at the show. While digging around through old copies of Emporium magazine, I came across an article by Roberto Papini (Vol. XCI, n. 545) called Le arti a Milano nell'anno XVIII [The Arts in Milan in the year 1800]. There were three pictures of embroideries from the 7th Triennial Exhibition (which happened in 1940), one of them I will show you here as it is so interesting:

This is an embroidery from the Modern Lace and Embroidery Section by I. Rignaschi from a design by A. Cattadori. Click on the photo for a closer look, it's really a lovely piece. As I'm no expert, I am guessing that this is not done on Tulle but could possibly have been executed on Batiste or some other very fine fabric.

This one is definitely on Tulle:

Again, from the Modern Lace and Embroidery Section, it is a detail from a curtain from a design by F. Clerici.

However, it was the pictures of the room where the modern embroideries and laces were exhibited which caught my attention.

Click on the photos or a closer look, you can see the fresco has several scenes. The caption says that the mural was done by G.G. dal Forno and then in brackets it says (Clerici). "F. Clerici" is the Italian 20th century artist Fabrizio Clerici (1913-1993) who received a prize for his work at the 7th Triennial in the setting up of the Lace and Embroidery section and for his Trompe l'oeil work in this section. (There is another photo in the article of the Trompe l'oeil but it is small and difficult to appreciate so I am not showing it here). I am sad to say that it seems that the painted works were destroyed by the World War II bombings in 1943.

One scene of many from the mural called "Italian women at work" painted by G.G. dal Forno. Women gathered around tables embroidering together:

"G.G. dal Forno" was Gian Giacomo dal Forno (1909-1989) another artist who's work on this fresco earned him a gold medal at the Triennial.

The author of the Emporium article tells that the Embroidery and Lace section of the Triennial was by far the best exhibit of the show. He tells of the exquisite works of Pia di Valmarana, Jesurum, Emilia Bellini, Racconigi, Alina di Ricaldone and the laces of Aquila and Pescocostanzo.

Many more names and things to investigate for me to add to my never-ending list of things related to Italian needlework!

If anyone can tell me about any of the artwork, people or companies mentioned here, would you please post below?


  1. If you are looking for books in Italian, even rare and antique books, one good source is "Mare magnum":

    Other sources, but perhaps better for newer (even out-of-print) books, are these three to start out:



    --Il Libraccio:

    I have used all four services in the past, and have not had problems. One probably should be able to communicate in Italian, though.

    Hope this helps in the book hunt! Ciao!

  2. Ah! Thank you! A couple of links I did not know!

    I shouldn't look, but I will!