History of drapery in painting

Anne Hollander’s book Fabric of Vision: Dress and Drapery in Painting has been reprinted and is available to order from Book Depository or Amazon and, no doubt, many other places.

hollander_fabricI have been so keen to read this book, but second-hand  copies of the original 2002 edition haven’t been affordable and I didn’t want to make an expensive mistake. There are no copies in the West Australian state library system, but Trove revealed there are actually two copies here, both in university libraries. I don’t have borrowing rights for either. (Trove is a wonderful resource but it does generate great envy – the other states between them have 22 copies, including many available to the public.)  In desperation, I called on a friend who happens to have the correct library card…

After reading it cover to cover, I will never draw or paint my scraps of fabric in ignorance again. The wealth of history in drapery through the ages, the significance, the styles and layers of meaning are complex, enthralling and eye-opening. It is one of those books from which note-taking is useless because there would be so many I would need to re-type the whole thing. It’s value is as a reference so all those half-remembered passages may be re-examined with more care when needed. Or dipped into for inspiration by flipping through to look at the pictures or, rather, the pictures she has chosen to juxtapose.

Even though it was written by a respected scholar in conjunction with an exhibition it is actually an engaging, easy read, with a story to tell. Yes, I was concerned that it would be dense or worse, one of those catalogues with tiny illustrations and a difficult essay that doesn’t say much at all! My quest was rewarded and, in my experience, If you too are into making art of drapery and want to know about those whose footsteps we follow: this book belongs on your shelf.

I certainly got what I needed from the library book – the sure knowledge that I will order a copy of my own.  I am very grateful for the loan.