Textiles and fashion room. The Story of Fibre presents examples of various techniques, decorations and styles in textiles.

antique tapestries
Tapestries, in effect textile wall pictures, have a special place in the history of textile crafts. They hung in Roman and Greek Antique interiors, as well as in early Christian churches. Originally various techniques such as appliqué, embroidery, and weaving were used. From the Middle Ages paintings, cartoons, often by the best artists of the time were copied in tapestries woven on a hand-loom. Themes for figurative cycles were drawn above all from the Bible, and Antique Greek and Roman mythology, allegories and stories from contemporary literature and historical events were also popular. For several centuries tapestries became an integral part of interiors, their subjects and origins reflecting the social standing of their owners. Among the leading European countries where tapestries were made until the 19th century were Germany, France, Belgium and Italy. After a short period of decline in interest in textile images in interiors, the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries witnessed a renaissance of the craft.

Coptic textiles
Coptic textiles are a unique document of the production and techniques used in textiles in ancient Greek and Roman and Early Christian periods. Copts, inhabitants of Egypt and followers of Christian religion, buried dead clothed bodies into sand graves from around the 3rd until the 12th century. Discovered in the 19th century, Coptic textiles attracted the attention of antique collectors. Today, a large number of fragments of tunics and cloaks, as well as interior textiles, most of which originated in Egypt, are found in museums around the world.

antique fabrics
Silk patterned fabrics were produced in Europe from the early Middle Ages, first in Spain and Italy, and later in other European countries. Patterns were inspired chiefly by plant and animal forms, stylised to various degrees or in a naturalistic form; figurative genre scenes were also popular in interior design. From the point of value, a purchase of such fabrics in the Middle Ages and until the 18th century was equivalent to that of a property.

The aesthetic urge and desire to decorate led to the creation of lace. To strengthen and neaten the edges of fabrics, bed and table linen, warp yarns were interlaced and knotted at the fringes. This way a decorative border was created which later became a separate lace. The collection on display demonstrates the history of lace from its beginnings in the 16th century, when needle-made lace insets complemented embroidery on counted threads, and when the two main types, needle-worked lace and bobbin lace, originated. Lace-making in the 17th century is documented by fine examples from Flanders and by beautiful high relief Venetian lace. In the 18th century the craft continued to flourish, and a number of variants emerged named after the places in Belgium and France where they were made, including Brussels, Valencienne, Mechem, Binche, Alencon, and Chantilly. Examples of lace made in the 19th century and at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries are also represented, typified by their elaborate motifs and perfect execution. The collection also includes lace of Czech origin, lace made with metal fibre, and knitted and crocheted examples.

Embroidery is the oldest, most widespread and still employed decorative technique. It penetrated all social strata and was made by amateurs, as well as royalty, nuns, school-girls and highly specialised craftsmen with sophisticated artistic ambitions. Throughout the centuries embroidery was used in a wide range of items, namely in clothing and clothing accessories, liturgical vests, and interior textiles, including upholstery. Consequently, various method of sewing and embroidery developed, and the range of materials used also increased with time. This included white and colour silk, wool, cotton, thin ribbons, hair, metal threads, spangles, small spirals called bullions, and also non-textile materials such as straw, fish scales, goose feathers, pearls and glass beads. Motifs reflected the current trends, and as far back as the 16th century ornamental patterns for embroidery were published in books. Approximately at that time samplers started appearing around Europe.

printed textiles
Printing is an important decorative technique and frequently used in the Czech lands. It spread around Europe from the times of the Crusades as a cheaper alternative to woven fabrics. Its general popularity was stimulated by light and airy printed oriental fabrics, which dominated Europe in the 18th century. In the 1760s printed cotton fabrics, so-called calico, began to be produced in manufactories in Bohemia, providing the foundation for the later world-renowned Czech textile industry. Surviving samplers — samples of printed textiles, bound in books — are evidence of their lavish execution. Apart from fabrics for dresses, jackets, aprons and small accessories, large gentlemen’s handkerchiefs used in tobacco snuffing were popular. Small, so-called “coffee cloths” with printed patterns depicting various historical events were also fashionable and were laid out for small coffee gatherings. Printed woollen scarves and shawls were worn in stead of overcoats by all social classes, as they were much cheaper than oriental shawls with woven patterns.

liturgical vestments
Liturgical vestments made exclusively for the purpose of church services constitute a separate category of textiles, in which all decorative techniques and ornaments typical of certain styles are documented (embroidery with silk, metal thread, glass beads, straw, appliqué and lace). Apart from garments of the celebrant, such as alb, chasuble, mitre, dalmatic and cope, textiles were also used on the altar along with liturgical vessels and cult sculptures. From the Middle Ages liturgical vestments were created by painters and embroiderers as unique art objects, and expensive imported fabrics were used for their production, as well as laces originally made for other purposes. Liturgical vestments were also made from materials often given to the church by wealthy followers.

In order to avoid any adverse effects of light and dust on garments displayed for a longer period of time, and to increase the number of items on display to the public from our collections, the exhibits in this section of the gallery will be regularly changed.

textile art in the 20th century
The 20th century textile collection comprises around 450 tapestries and 1,500 exhibits of lace and textile design. The beginnings of tapestry making in the Czech lands are documented with examples created in the first home workshop started by Rudolf Schlattauer in Valašské Meziříčí at the end of the 19th century. The most significant items in the collections of the inter-war period is a set of tapestries, Crafts, made after designs by František Kysela in Marie Teinitzerová´s workshop. After the Second World War Antonín Kybal played an important role in the development of Czech art tapestry and textile design, when as a professor at the School of Applied Arts in Prague he brought up a whole new generation of textile designers. They entered the artistic scene in the 1960s and for two decades, in the 1960s and 1970s actively influenced tapestry making and textile design at home and abroad. The years 1980 until the end of the 20th century are represented by artists, most of whom graduated from the School of Applied Arts. Despite their common starting point, their work is individual and the expressive variety indicates the wide range of creative possibilities in textiles. Apart from the work of Czech origin, there is also a small number of work by foreign artists, for example by Magdalena Abakanowisz, Sheila Hicks and Vojtěch Sadley.
At the beginning of this century in the Czech lands embroidery was an important home craft, albeit in decline.Emilie Paličková was behind the revival of Czech embroidery, which she elevated to a higher role. In the first half of the 20th century Marie Serbousková and Božena Rothmayerová contributed significantly to the progress in the art of embroidery. After the Second World War the graduates from the School of Applied Arts in Prague dominated the artist — embroiderers. They set out to create three-dimensional expressive work based on perfect mastery of classic embroidery techniques.

Children have been always inseparable from artefacts for play, be it objects purpose made as toys or found in nature. For centuries toys were to some extent copies of the adult world as a way of introducing children into their forthcoming roles: girls as mothers and housewives, boys as hunters and fighters. The best example of this is a doll, a miniature human being. Dolls were dressed as their little owners, who in turn dressed as their mothers, and in this way dolls serve as evidence of fashion. A baby doll is not documented until the first half of the 19th century. The end of the 19th century is regarded as the golden era of toys, mechanisation of production brought a greater variety and financial accessibility for all classes of society. The beginning of the 20th century saw a return to handmade toys, as a way of inculcating good taste and developing feeling for nature and art. This endeavour lasted throughout the whole century.

Furniture for storing clothes forms part of the display in this gallery. Changes in the way textiles and clothes were stored are reflected in the developments of the furniture forms: in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance clothes were stored horizontally in coffers or chests. These were elaborately engraved and gilt, painted in polychrome colours, and in Renaissance frequently inlaid. From the chest developed the two-stage cupboard (one chest placed above another) that was followed in the 16th century by an armoire (a cupboard), a predecessor of a wardrobe, in which dresses were for the first time hung. The chest was replaced in the Baroque era by a chest of drawers — a commode, followed by more specialised pieces of furniture such as the tallboy. Various types of seating are also presented, displaying examples of upholstery.