Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The V&A have our Luther Hooper curtains!

The Victoria and Albert Museum have recently been updating their catalogue.  I am not sure if they have added some new wording, or if I had not noticed it before but it would appear that what I jokingly said on our Peasant Arts walks at the St Christopher's Church last year is true.  The Victoria & Albert Museum have St Christopher's Church's Luther Hooper curtains, or perhaps just some 'furnishing fabric' as it is described in their records.

There is no picture but the fabric is described as "silk damask. With a design of clover leaves alternating with the monogram 'I.H.S', set in gothic ogives which are combined with palmette and beaded band  ornament in white on a red ground".  We have a few pictures of the missing Luther Hooper works from  St Christopher's Church (below) and this description does not appear to describe any of those.  Who was I.H.S.?   I wondered who this person might be, perhaps a well known local figure who was associated with St Christopher's?  Then I discovered that IHS is a monogram of the name Jesus Christ(!).  I do not totally understand where it comes from but an online explanation says, "Catholic Christian symbolism in art provides a clear graphic illustration which represents people or items of religious significance. What is the definition and the meaning of the IHS? The IHS Christian Emblem is a Monogram which represents the Holy Name of Jesus consisting of the three letters: IHS. During the Middle Ages, the Name of Jesus was written: IHESUS. The monogram, or emblem, IHS contains the first and last letter of the Holy Name. The letters IHS referring to this monogram do not contain periods, or full stops, after each letter as it is an abbreviation of the name IHESUS"

There are many Luther Hooper works in the V&A, sadly none of them are illustrated online.  This piece is 17.25 inches by 28.5 inches.  It was given to the V&A by Miss G. Bunting in 1953.  The most interesting information however is "Object history note: Designed for St Christopher's Church".  The V&A catalogue entry can be found here.

St. Christopher's Church altar curtains by Luther Hooper,
from Nicholson, C., and Spooner, C., Recent Eccelesiastical Architecture, Technical Journals Ltd., London

Portion of Silk Damask, Side Curtain to Altar,
St. Christopher's, Haslemere
designed by Luther Hooper
from Art Journal, February 1911

Curtain of Woollen Tissue, St Christopher's Church,
designed by Luther Hooper, woven by Percy C. Hooper,
from Art Journal, February 1911

Luther Hooper wool hanging from
Hand-loom weaving, plain & ornamental,
Pitman & Sons, London, 1920

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