Tuesday 24 November 2009

Free Tristan Quilt Lecture and Boutis Class * 5 December 2009 * V&A London *

It always amuses me that it is often someone in another country that points out the interesting events happening in one's own. We have Paule Motton in France to thank for this post and also gaining permission to show unpublished images of a fabulous treasure.

Paule writes: Provençal boutis is a most fascinating technique of quilting that allows a beautiful interplay of light over its surface, so it should come as no surprise that it was developed under the sun of Languedoc and Provence, in the south of France. One of the oldest pieces we know was made at the end of the 14th century, probably in Sicily. It is a huge work (122" x 106"), probably made for a bed covering, depicting in fourteen scenes the story of Tristan and Yseult, with Italian captions. Two parts of the work can be seen in Florence, Italy, one in a private collection, the other in the Bargello Museum, but the main part is in the collections of the V&A Museum, in London.

This could have been the end of the story, if not for the impulse that joins together a group of French stitchers in Calvisson, Gard. Their association - called Les Cordelles, Boutis en Vaunage - works with the House of Boutis, a small museum created and run by Francine Nicolle. In 2006, they decided to start the big challenge of recreating a full-size replica ot the Tristan Quilt, and now, three years and 6,000 work-hours later, they have completed their mission and will show the recreated Tristan Quilt in the V&A between 3-6 December.

On Saturday 5 December there will be a special study day. From 11.00 - 13.00 and 14.00 - 16.00 in the Art Studio in the Sackler Centre there will be hands on experience of the boutis technique and at 13.00 and 16.00 Francine Nicolle will be comparing the original and contemporary versions of the quilt in Room 9 of the Medieval and Renaissance galleries. You can just turn up to these events - there is no need to book.

Thanks to Francine Nicolle and Gerard Verhoest, we have the privilege to show you unpublished pictures of this work.

By Paule Motton


  1. Beautiful post, and i`m so glad the surgery went well!! Congrats Paule

  2. Thanks a lot for this visual treat. The figures look as if they are sculpted out of cloth.