Royal embroidery – stitches and stories
Textielmuseum Tilburg, NL
1.12.2022 – 29.05.2023
Seize your chance to admire both the historical and new curtains of Paleis Huis ten Bosch – the residential palace of Her Majesty Queen Máxima and King Willem Alexander – in the TextielMuseum!
About the exhibition
Royal embroidery: stitches and stories’ gives visitors the unique opportunity to admire both the historical and new curtains for Huis ten Bosch Palace, the royal residence of Her Majesty Queen Máxima and King Willem-Alexander. Together with more than 150 embroiderers from across the Netherlands, Her Majesty Queen Máxima helped embroider this new piece of cultural heritage. The exhibition offers a rare look inside Huis ten Bosch Palace and a glimpse behind the scenes of this extensive creative project while revealing the wealth of stories that arise when people embroider together.
Old and new
The historical curtains, which hung in the Chinese Hall of Huis ten Bosch Palace, were made in 18th-century Canton, China. The curtains are now too fragile for use but can be seen in the TextielMuseum for the last time before they are preserved. The curtains depict numerous embroidered scenes that are highly symbolic. The multifaceted stories hidden behind the everyday images provide insight into the social status, dress and architecture of China at the time.
A new design
The new curtains were designed by The Hague designer Liesbeth Stinissen, who took inspiration from the historical curtains. For example, water and other natural elements play a prominent role on both the historical and new curtains. Where the historical curtains depict a Chinese river, the new curtains show the Dutch river delta. The meandering waterways connect various architectural icons and daily scenes from The Netherlands’ rich history, some of which have a special link to the Royal House.
The exhibition takes you through all aspects of the new curtains’ design and production. Sketches and samples show the creative choices Liesbeth Stinissen made to arrive at the final design. In the TextielLab, Stinissen explored the countless possibilities of computer-controlled embroidery with machine embroidery expert Frank de Wind. Samples are provided for you to touch, helping to bring the intricate details of the design to life.
More than 150 people from embroidery groups as far apart as Friesland and Zeeland as well as Her Majesty Queen Máxima herself helped to develop the new curtains. Overseen by master hand embroiderer Anna Bolk, they embroidered various natural elements that were then attached by hand to the machine-embroidered curtains. The exhibition includes a personal embroidery from each group. These tell the stories behind the makers’ passion for the craft, which sometimes goes back generations. Embroidering together creates connections and nurtures conversations and the exchange of knowledge and skills.
Detail from the machine-embroidered new curtain designed by Liesbeth Stinissen, showing Huis ten Bosch Palace, photo: Josefina Eikenaar
Sample of the new curtains for Huis ten Bosch Palace, showing the Sint Servaas Bridge in Maastricht, photo: Patty van den Elshout
Machine embroidery specialist Frank de Wind, designer Liesbeth Stinissen and master hand embroiderer Anna Bolk researching materials in the TextielLab for the machine-embroidered part of the new curtains for Huis ten Bosch Palace, photo: Willeke Machiels
Her Majesty Queen Máxima and hand embroidery group ‘Ronde Tafelhuis’ from Tilburg attend a master class in embroidery by Anna Bolk as part of the development of the new curtains for Palace Huis ten Bosch that will be embroidered by the TextielLab - the workshop of the TextielMuseum. Photo: Maarten Schuth commissioned by TextielMuseum
Her Majesty Queen Máxima and members of the ‘Stik en Strijkgroep’ embroidery group from ‘Het Ronde Tafelhuis’ in Tilburg during an embroidery masterclass given by master hand embroiderer Anna Bolk in the TextielMuseum, photo: Maarten Schuth
Detail from the historical curtains, unknown embroidery workshop in Guangzhou, ca. 1791. HTB 0680, Royal Collections of the Netherlands in The Hague, photo: Maarten Schuth