Authors, scholars and activists

Authors, scholars and activists

Francis Henry Newbery (1855-1946) was a British designer, painter and educationalist, who worked at the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland. Between 1885 to 1917 he was the headmaster of the School.

Alessandro Paganino was an Italian artist and writer from the early sixteenth century. In 1518 (reprinted in 1527 and 1538) he published a pattern book called Il Burato, Libro de Recami ('Buratto, a Book of Embroidery'), which contains very early references to buratto embroidery.

Matio (Matteo) Pagano (1515-1588) was a Venetian who published various books with lace and embroidery designs. His book titles were deliberately chosen to promote needlework as an acceptable activity for virtuous women.

Rozsika Parker (1945-2010) was a British art historian, feminist, psychotherapist and writer. She was particularly interested in challenging the division between fine art and decorative arts, as well as highlighting the minor role that women’s creative work has been allocated within the world of art in general.

Louisa Frances Pesel (1870-1947) was born in Bradford (W. Yorkshire, England), the daughter of Bradford merchant Frederick Robert Pesel and his wife, Isabella. She was educated at Bradford Girls’ Grammar School. Louisa Pesel was a distinguished scholar, practitioner and teacher of the art of embroidery.

Rudolf Pfister (1867-1955; his official name was Jean Jost Rodolphe Pfister) was an Elzas born, French textile chemist and textile historian. In the first half of the twentieth century he analysed and published textiles from various Middle Eastern archaeological sites. 

Laura Powell defended her dissertation in 2011 at the University of Nevada. The title of her work is: Sew speak! Needlework as the Voice of Ideology Critique in The Scarlet Letter, "A New England nun," and The Age of Innocence.  

Faith Ringgold (1930) is an African-American quilt artist, born Faith Willi Jones in Harlem, New York City (USA). Ringgold’s oil paintings and posters, made at the beginning of her career, began attracting critical attention in the 1960's. In the 1970's she began painting on stretched canvas that she decorated with complex fabric borders.

Louis Ruffini (c. 1760-1804; also written Luigi Ruffini or Luigi Ruffin) was an Italian entrepreneur who with his family settled in Edinburgh in 1782.

John Ruskin, also known as the Sage of Coniston, was an English artist and art critic, who was involved in various nineteenth century movements, notably the Arts and Crafts Movement headed by William Morris. Ruskin was an art patron, painter, water colourist, as well as an art critic and social commentator. His work influenced many artists and artisans, including embroiderers.

Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo (d.1412) was the Castilian ambassador to the court of Timur (1336-1405), the founder of the Timurid empire. From 1403 he travelled for King Henry III (1379-1406) of Castile from Spain to Iran and further east to Samarkand, where he arrived on 8th September 1404. The Castilians left Samarkand again on 21st November 1404 and returned in Spain in 1406.

Blanche Catherine Saward (no dates found) was a British writer, who is known for The Dictionary of Needlework, published in 1882, in collaboration with Sophia Caulfeild. There is also a companion volume, Supplement to the Dictionary of Needlework (London: Gill), which came out in 1887.

G. Smith was the author of The Laboratory or School of Arts (1756), which includes references to the dyeing of fibres used, amongst others, for embroidery. G. Smith is sometimes referred to as Godfrey Smith, Geoffrey Smith or George Smith.

Sir Marc Aurel Stein (1862-1943) was a British/Hungarian archaeologist, ethnographer, geographer and linguist, who wrote many books about his expeditions and discoveries in India, Iran and Central Asia. He died in 1943 in Afghanistan and lies buried in the Christian cemetery of Kabul.

Margaret Swain (née Hart) was an English textile historian, who was particularly interested in embroidery and the social/economic factors behind its production and use. She was married to Richard Swain (a bacteriologist), who worked at Edinburgh University.

John Taylor was an English poet nicknamed 'The Water Poet’. He was born in Gloucester, but spent much of his life as a waterman in London, ferrying passengers across the River Thames. He also served in the English navy. John Taylor was politically active and wrote various pamphlets, especially in support of the watermen.

Evelyn Thomas (1951) is an English art historian who specialises in medieval English embroidery. Both of his parents were artists and his father taught Art at Eton College. Thomas studied art history at Edinburgh University (Scotland) and went on to an MA at the University of East Anglia.

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