|Picked up at a museum gift shop in Oslo years ago, this reproduction panel is adapted from panel 37-38. William in his ship, crossing the English channel. The one with the cross flag on the mast was a gift from his wife Matilda.|
It begins by coverings the expected essentials, such as details about the technique used, the wool, the cloth, the history it portrays, and the speculations regarding ‘who actually stitched it’. But then the fun begins, as the book takes you through a chronological tale of the persons and events who made this unique, yet unpretentious medieval embroidery world famous.
The Bayeux tapestry is not actually a tapestry, but an embroidery. Stitched with wool on linen, it measures 70 meters and tells the story of the Norman conquest of England, and ending with the battle of Hasting. It is traditionally accredited to the skilled hands of queen Matilda, the wife of William the conqueror….. but no one will ever know for sure.
After visiting Le Louvre in Paris and seeing amazing, huge, and intricate medieval era tapestry, the Bayeux embroidery in comparison is humble, and simple in its technique. So much so, that in 1885 a group of 37 ladies from the Leek school of art embroidery did a faithful reproduction of the entire tapestry in just a years’ time.
The art in itself is plain, naïve in part, perhaps even grotesque. But it’s fascination factor stems from its uniqueness, the mystery surrounding the time and purpose for its creation, and its survival through centuries of revolts, revolutions, wars, bombing, greed and neglect.
A visit to Bayeux, is on my list of ‘places to visit’….. And I promise that I will not cut off a piece as a souvenir, such as Charles Stothard did in 1816 when he was sent to France by the society of antiquaries with the assignment of making coloured drawings of the tapestry for their publication Vetusta Monumenta. His poor wife got the blame for the act of vandalism, but was eventually cleared of all suspicions in her later years.
|Artist interpretation of queen Matilda and her ladies stitching the tapestry.|
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Here you will find a reproduction of an early French Lacis pattern for three panels of the tapestry. The pattern is monochrome, which makes it perfect for not just cross stitch but also other counted crafts such as: mosaic, beads, filet crochet, knitting, tapestry, or tent stitch on canvas.