Page 11

Devonshire Hunting Tapestries, Boar and Bear Hunt detail, 1425-50

For Maffei, the suggestion of volume is not achieved through woven shading techniques, such as the complex systems of battage and hachures used in French and Flemish tapestry, but rather through the way a pattern becomes truncated around the folds in cloth, a technique which is more common in northern European tapestries such as this weaving of the Life of Esther, in which the folds are suggested by the interruption of the patterns in the cloth.

Esther Before Asaherus, c. 1510, from Rapp Buri, Anna and Mnica Stucky-Schurer, Zahm und Wild: Basler und Strassburger Bildteppichge des 15. Jahrhunderts. Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1990.

Maffei uses this approach to shading, as well as the compression and extension of a patterned motif which we saw operative in the Wari tunics, in the fabulous rendering of the woman’s dress in Travel, another piece from the “New York Times” series [next page]. The woman here is Maffei’s maternal grandmother, the person responsible for her interest in textiles. The focus on pattern and color ties Maffei’s work to pre Columbian tapestry and her interest in narrative and the differential treatment of space is reminiscent of Medieval European tapestry.

next page