women, thread and art

the female figure represented in art performing textile activities

girls winding a ball of yarn

harold harvey (1874-1941) -

Harold Harvey is a painter who portrayed the daily life of the Cornish working class.

In this painting there are two very young girls, one of them holding a skein of wool with both hands, while the other, on his back, holds the other end of the thread. it´s not clear if he is winding a ball or making crochet (because of the position of the hand). 

the “feminine works” were an activity in which women were initiated from a very young age, thus being part of them throughout their lives . In this way, the idea that prevails until today that women’s textile activities are a productive hobby with the sole purpose of supplying the home, on the one hand, and on the other, natural to the female gender, is legitimized and strengthened in society since it´s performed by all women regardless of their age or social class.

portrait of lucy aldridge

john aldridge (c.1950) - fry art gallery

John Aldridge is an English painter who was part of the great bardfield art community. in this oil, his wife lucy, appears knitting while a cat sleeps  in his lap.

The center of the image is the cat and the woman’s hands. cats are linked, in the Christian tradition, with women, as they are animals of the family but with a suspicious nature. 
Secondly, this misogynist and patriarchal vision,the women are considered the germ of evil and must be kept busy to distract from have bad thoughts. It´s curious so that most female portraits, except for the modern ones that try to escape this prejudice, we will find that they are busy doing some activity. unlike in the male portraits, where the men appear posing calm and relaxed, since their inactivity will not show negligence or perverse thoughts.

fisherman´s woman knitting

Henri Guinier (1867-1927) - faouet museum

Funerary Relief of a Woman and Two Children

Byzantine period,, Asia, Palmyra (Syria).150 E.C. - harvard museum


Li Zijian (1954- )

manuscript of royal songs about the conception of the coronation of Puys of Rouen

Étienne Colaud , 1537. french national library, paris.

madame of pompadour

François Hubert Drouais , 1753-64. National Gallery, London.

the grandparents

fernando Álvarez de Sotomayor y Zaragoza, 1905. museo del prado

weaving the silk

Kitagawa Utamaro I, Japanese, 1753 - 1806. Philadelphia museum of arts

Japanese illustration of the Edo period.

this is an image of a book dedicated to silk and manual feminine work. two women appear weaving on a loom and another watching the scene.

sunlight on the blue room

anne ancher. 1891. skagen museum

this is a  work of the danish painter anne ancher.⁠

⁠ in the painting, we see anne’s daughter, helga, crochetting in her grandmother’s room while the sun enters through the windows. ⁠

⁠ she’s turning her back on us. that allows us to contemplate the scene without her knowing and be part of her intimacy.⁠

⁠ anne ancher captures in her paintings with a delicate gaze the daily life of her family and friends, mostly women, using strong and secure colors and brushstrokes.⁠

the knitting madonna

bertram von minden. (1335- 1415) hamburguer kunsthalle

detail of the polyptych by Bertram von Minden (1335-1415).

the virgin mary appears knitting in circular with four needles a robe for her son.

This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom – Gospel of John.