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In Praise of the Needlewoman: Embroiderers, Knitters and Weavers in Art [Hardcover]

Gail Carolyn Sirna
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 19.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

15 Aug 2006
This charming and rewarding collection of beautiful paintings celebrates the centuries-old iconography of women engaged in needlework, an activity that has always united women from all countries and in all stations of life, whether taken up for practical or artistic purposes. Artists as long ago as the Middle Ages sought to capture the needleworker's quiet concentration and domestic milieu, to convey the social and cultural connotations of this largely female domain, and its symbolic resonance. Many of the loveliest of these paintings are depicted, including works by Vermeer, Chardin, Velazquez and Dali, by the Pre-Raphaelite school and by the impressionists, in particular the works of such women artists as Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Merrell Publishers Ltd; 1 edition (15 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1858943418
  • ISBN-13: 978-1858943411
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 21.6 x 27.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,084,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Stunning - THE LADY This beautiful new book would make a lovely Christmas gift for embroiderers everywhere - fascinating reading for stitchers - CROSS STITCH GOLD

From the Publisher

Over 80 beautiful paintings from the history of Western art depicting women engaged in needlework

Based on extensive research by an award-winning needleworker

The perfect gift for needleworkers and for anyone interested in women’s history and the representation of women in art

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Praise of the Needlewoman 31 Dec 2012
By sibs55 VINE VOICE
Verified Purchase
A wonderful collection of major art works depicting needlewoman (embroiderers, knitters, weavers, sewers etc).

Each picture in this book is cross-referenced not just with the title and artist but also explains at length the background, the colour and what to look at in these particular pictures and the pictorial background to what you are looking at.
It really is highly recommended, not just as a reference book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight for those interested in art, textile arts, women's history, or art history 22 Sep 2006
By Beusen - Published on Amazon.com
This new book by first-time author Gail Carolyn Sirna is a compendium of paintings that show women engaged in textile arts. As suggested by its title, the book is intended as homage to needlewomen through history, a counterpart to the poetic tribute by 17th Century poet John Taylor, "The Prayse of the Needle". The author's motivating assertion is that needlework is second only to childbirth and childrearing as a common thread that links women of all places, cultures, and eras. For each painting, she provides a brief commentary about its composition, what the physical setting of the female subject tells us about her life situation, and the historical context of other elements of the picture.

Ms. Sirna has taught needlework for 30 years, is an award-winning embroiderer, and is a regular columnist for Needlepoint Now. In 2004 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Needlearts. In Praise of the Needlewoman started as a lecture presented for needlework guilds. It evolved over time as the focus for the author's Honors Teaching Certification through the National Academy of Needlearts (NAN), and finally has come to maturity in the form of this book. En route, the author researched the collections of museums in North America and Europe to identify relevant paintings from the 15th through the 20th centuries. She indicates in her introduction that these investigations yielded nearly 500 such paintings. This text presents approximately 90 of them, although the criteria for their selection are not provided.

The paintings are presented chronologically by date of creation. Each painting is given a full page, with the artist, title, date of creation, and source of each painting presented below the image. The author's narrative is on the opposite page; the writing is straightforward, objective, and highly readable. In some cases, the painting is repeated as a monochromatic halftone screen under the written narrative. This is a particularly effective design feature that enhances the visual presentation without compromising the readability of the text. The color reproductions are of a very high quality; in fact, given their number, the nominal price of $35 seems very reasonable. The table of contents does not list the paintings individually, however they are indexed by artist at the end of the book.

The dimensions of this hardcover book (approx. 8.5" x 11") are entirely consistent with the intimate tone of the book. It can be comfortably held in one's hands for reading or scanning, but at the same time its size provides enough page area to do the paintings justice. Although a number of previous texts have detailed the history of needlework from a variety of different perspectives, this book offers a novel approach. The coupling of the paintings with a short narrative gives an immediacy to their historical context that can be difficult to extract from more conventional presentations.

This book is unlike anything else in my library. It's one of the few books I've owned from which I get guilty pleasure - it sits on my family room table, like a box of chocolates. During the course of my busy day, I find myself stealing moments in which I pick up the book and randomly peruse a picture or two along with its commentary. In doing so, I am instantaneously transported into the place that stitching always takes me - a focused meditation.

In Praise of the Needlewoman is both visually and intellectually enjoyable. It would be a good addition to the library of anyone with an interest in the arts, needlework, women's history, or art history.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely full-page color photos are accompanied by insights into the painter, his subject, and the world of needlework. 7 Nov 2006
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
In Praise of the Needlewoman: Embroiderers, Knitters, Lacemakers, and Weavers in Art could've been featured in our Arts section but is reviewed here for its special interest to any involved in the needlework arts. Works by old to modern masters depict the needlewoman's artistic pursuits, and come from such famous names as Vermeer, Chardin, and Dali. This celebrates the theme, analyzing the surveying the fine art of women's work through some of the best needlework classics of the art world. Lovely full-page color photos are accompanied by insights into the painter, his subject, and the world of needlework.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars mostly for 19th century enthusiasts 26 Nov 2006
By R. - Published on Amazon.com
Beautiful clear reproductions of paintings and descriptions of needlework in relation to social history of the period. Even so I am quite disappointed in the book because my interest is in earlier periods and the book descriptions are slightly misleading. I ordered it because the book jacket says "spans more than five centuries" and "from the sixteenth century onwards," and a description on this page mentions medieval. However, the earliest painting is from 1595 (d'Estrees sisters in the Louvre) and the needlewoman therein is part of the background, not the main painting. That is the *ONLY* 16th century painting and there are only 6 from the 17th century.

The others are all later: 5 from the 18th century (2 of those from the 1790s); 21 from the 20th century; rest are all 19th century. This is a visually lovely book but if you want a balanced continuum of the needlewoman across "more than five centuries," this isn't it. If you're looking for needlewomen in the 19th century, you'll enjoy it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Praise of the Needlewoman: Embroiderers, Knitters, Lacemakers and Weavers in Art 25 April 2009
By Judie Bellingham - Published on Amazon.com
Occasionally, during the journey in this life something comes across your path that simply takes your breath away. It may be a perfectly formed flower, an amazing sunset, a passage of words, or perhaps a composition of music. All of these things leave you with a feeling of complete awe of the creator of such beautiful things.

I've recently discovered a book that has left me with such a feeling and in fact I'm only now, getting my breath back! The book I'm referring to is called In Praise of the Needlewoman Embroiderers, Knitters, Lacemakers and Weavers in art.

This book is the result of a thesis researched and written by Gail Sirna. This publication contains a compilation of beautiful paintings of needlewomen, by artists such as Vermeer, Renoir, Picasso, Monet, Gauguin, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Cassat. These paintings span from the times of the old masters, through the Impressionist and Pre-Raphaelites period right into the twentieth century

Since time memorial, women from all walks of life have taken needle in hand either for the most utilitarian of needs or simply for the pleasure of creating something of artistic beauty. Artists over the centuries have endeavored to capture the concentration and serenity of the needlewoman whilst she stitches, or have tried to portray the necessities of needlework in ordinary day to day life, present the world over.

The author of this sumptuous publication Gail Carolyn Sirna, has had an interest in needlework for over 30 years. It was through her passion for needlework that led her to the art that portrayed her Favourite pastime. Gail enrolled in the honors program at the National Academy of Needle Arts. In Praise of the Needlewoman evolved from Gail's' honors research for this program. Gail writes, "For peasant and princess, cave dweller, and career woman, needlework has been a most gratifying endeavor for the human being, especially women

I have my Favourite paintings in this book. I especially love the painting titled "The Sick Child" which was painted by J.Bond Francisco. Whilst the mother is busy with her hands, sitting at the bedside, the painter captures her anxiety for her seriously ill child who lays unmoving in the bed. I also enjoy looking at some of the lesser known works by both well known artists and totally unknown artists. Gail Sirna completes this publication with interesting information and expert comments relating to each individual painting

The intellectual capacity of the writing is a pleasure to encounter, just as each painting is a treat of its own.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too Good to be True!!! Lovely! 9 May 2010
By Retired Librarian - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I collect books on knitting in artwork and is a real gem! The pictures could not be any better. Each one is lovelier than the page before. You will never tire of it.
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