Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Girl Tatting"

[Image Source: Philadelphia Museum of Art]

This painting by Pierre August Renoir currently resides in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The shuttle is small enough to be a tatting shuttle, yet, something about the way Renoir's subject is holding her hands makes me wonder. Is she tatting? Could she be knotting instead?

One of my favorite of Georgia Seitz' many memorable quotes is, "As many tatters as there are . . . that's how many ways there are to tat."

So I ask you. Perhaps you tat in a way that is similar to the method employed by the lass in this painting.

Georgia even narrates a wonderful teaser video for Palmetto Tatters called "Tatting Hands" in which she says these very words. It is a wonderful video. Look at all the different ways tatting is accomplished.

How do you hold the thread in your loom hand? Do you use your thumb and middle finger for "the pinch?" (I don't.) Could she be making a chain?

What do you think?


Jane Eborall said...

If it was knotting the shuttle would be HUGE!!! I guess it might be knotting with a very fine thread. No, I go for tatting!!!! What year was it painted, do you know?

Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...

I love the painting! I think she's tatting because of the shuttle size. Yes, I pinch the thread with my thumb and middle finger. It feels more natural to me, probably because of all the years I spent doing thread crochet. I have no control if I use my forefinger, plus my fingers go numb very quickly! Thanks for sharing this beautiful painting!

Cindy said...

Now I have to go tat something to remember how I do it. I think she's tatting (and in a much prettier blouse than I would wear, too!) I think I pinch with my thumb and forefinger. Thanks for sharing the painting AND the video.

Sally Kerson said...

I'm sure she is tatting - well would like to thing so!!!
I pinch with my thumb and forefinger, but agree there must be many methods used by tatters, that makes us all unique!!!!

LadyShuttleMaker aka MadMadPotter said...

What a great and thoughtful post. I tat in a very odd way, very unlike other tatters. I didn't know I was odd until I went to my first tatting convention. When I teach, I tell my students to try different methods and do what feels best to them.

Fox said...

Wonderful piece of old art! I have never seen this. Thanks for posting it.

My guess: tatting. I agree with Jane; if she were knotting the shuttle would be a lot larger...
FOx : )

tattrldy said...

This is a wonderful picture, thanks for sharing it. I think it's tatting. If you look below her left hand it looks like more than a single strand of lace. If it was knotting I think it would be a single strand. Some of my students have felt more comfortable pinching with the middle finger and thumb, and as pointed out, for every tatter there can be another way to hold your work.
I agree with A Happy Bluebird - I rarely wear anything that nice when I'm tatting.

IsDihara said...

Jane,the Philadelphia Museum of Art lists this painting as circa 1906. Renoir died in 1919.

Lace-Lovin' Librarian, I crocheted as a child so I am familiar with the "index finger up" hand position. You have confirmed it. She could be tatting.

LadyShuttlemaker, You need one of these prints in your "girl cave!" :-)

A Happy Bluebird, *laughs* I looked down to see what I was wearing after reading your comment. *I* don't wear clothes that nice-looking when I tat (or blog) either. Thanks for the chuckle.

Unknown said...

She's definitely holding her left hand like a crocheter would. Her right hand most certainly holds a tatting shuttle. Like Jane said if it was a knotting shuttle it'd been huge. If you look at the girl on my sidebar holding a shuttle now THAT's a knotting shuttle and that's how HUGE they were. My guess is like most people who don't tat he didn't know the proper way to paint the fingers in the right position...that's all! he wasn't a tatter he was a painter with poor knowledge of his subject OR the girl crocheted her tatting, LOL! There's someone in my lace guild who holds her fingers like a crocheter when she tats and when people do that they wonder why they keep dropping their shuttle when they pass the shuttle through the loop on the left hand, LOL! It's because they don't give themselves enough room holding it like that.
Okay...those are my thoughts! I've seen that print before and I remember being thoroughly disgusted and her hand positioning! LOL!

Jane Eborall said...

Hi Isdihara. Edwige Renaudi asked me to place the following comment on here. She couldn't do it herself. It's very interesting.

I think that its simply just a model that poses no knowledge of tatting. At the time of this painting, in France , making knots and tatting was more or less considered to be the same thing (that is to say frivolity). Actually, in France , one didn't know what to do with a shuttle: in Versailles Mrs Adelaide [par Nattier] is said “to do nothing”, in the grand palace at Paris Marie-Antoinette (par Liotard) “did [du parfilage]”. The shuttles of the 18th century are said “used for crochet, netting or weaving” etc but rarely for making knots. (Those are the expressions that I heard during visits or read in publications of the museums.)

At the moment, the painting is in an exhibition in Paris . I saw it a few days ago and I leafed through some books about this exhibition and its presentation on the internet. Renoir painted his pictures in the mind of the 18th century but represented his era. The portrait of Christine Lerolle embroidering was inspired by Vermeer's Lacemaker display at the Louvre where he used to go very often. Renoir used to paint pictures that were neither real nor scenes of the kind. He represented the woman and her daily occupations: sewing, music etc. He didn't apply to represent exactly the precise gesture. In many paintings the more or less it is the left which tat.