Charles Germain de St Aubin was designer to Louis XV of France, and he wrote a famous work entitled “The Art of the Embroiderer”, which is much referenced among scholars of textiles of the period, but has proven tricky to track down. Not to mention, my grasp of seventeenth century technical French really isn’t up to scratch.
Now, however, I’ve got hold of a recent translation. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art commissioned a translation, and produced the resulting book splendidly, with colour plates of interesting relevant textiles from their collection (annotated by the curator) and a facsimile of the original work, all on good paper and properly bound and presented in a slipcase. I gloat quietly to myself every time I look at it!
The book is of interest to me because he talks of chenille embroidery, and implies that there are two known methods for making a chenille yarn, one of markedly poorer quality than the other. This is very strange, because until some time in the seventies you would have been told that there was only one way to make a chenille, and that the method St Aubin dismisses as being of poor quality. As far as I am aware no one has yet worked out quite what St Aubin meant, or what other technique he was referring to.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find out!