–  Feld Haus – Museum of Popular Imagery

Edelweiss and gold lamé

Embroidered house blessings on luxury paper

House blessings requesting God's protection were a popular and widespread wall decoration in middle-class households in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the 1880s, a new way of producing house blessings emerged, which dominated the market for about 40 years: embroidery on perforated cardboard. The background was a sheet of so-called paper canvas, a paper with fine holes that could be embroidered. The stitched motto is complemented by dried fern fronds, edelweiss and silk flowers, as well as pictures, wafers, photographs or even portraits or figures embossed from celluloid. In this way, remarkable objects are created that combine an extraordinary technique with realities.

The inexpensive to produce paper canvas imitates the loosely woven canvas or stramin made of hemp. The celluloid embossments applied to the picture support can be understood as imitations of luxury items such as ivory, horn substance or mother-of-pearl. Embroidered pictures, which previously only the better-off classes could afford because of their high price, were now affordable for large sections of the population.

The house blessings could not be missing in any household. They unmistakably exhorted the inhabitants to virtuous behavior, which included in particular qualities and characteristics such as piety, reverence, diligence, loyalty and charity. The sources of the instructive sayings were the Bible, psalm verses, folk wisdom, proverbs or quotes from famous personalities. The pictorial representations showed popular motifs such as pilgrimage Madonnas, depictions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sacred Heart of Mary, or profane scenes illustrating father and mother happiness.


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