Back in 1903, Norwegian-born socialite and tapestry teacher Berthea Aske Bergh was determined to show Americans the brilliance of Norwegian billedvev, or tapestry. She traveled back to Norway and purchased Sørover (Southward), a tapestry of swans and maidens with shimmering threads from the famous Art Nouveau artist Frida Hansen.
Southward was an important, often-displayed monumental tapestry, so when the curators for the blockbuster show, Scandinavian Design in the United States, 1890-1980, sought key textiles, Frida Hansen’s tapestry was top of mind. But where was this 11 x 10 foot weaving now? Only a few grainy black-and-white photos and many glowing descriptions remained.
In January 2021, nearly 90 years after Southward was last displayed publicly, noted rug dealer Peter Pap opened a Tupperware container in a storage building in Maine. He unfolded a woven treasure in dusty, but pristine condition, and with a quick google search, he learned it was a long-lost Frida Hansen tapestry.
The veil of mystery, as well as the dust of decades, has been removed from Southward. The Frida Hansen masterpiece was restored to the world in time to add to the Scandinavian Design exhibit during its recent run at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and at the Milwaukee Museum of Art, showing March 24-July 23, 2023.
Join Robbie LaFleur for this timely webinar to celebrate the life and work of Frida Hansen and, especially, to hear about the Southward tapestry mystery as it unfolded.
Photo Credit: Peter Pap
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