Knitting in Art History
People have been knitting for centuries. There’s a rich history to learn about knitting. And did you know that you can see some of that history by exploring art history. The following images from the 19th century show knitting in art history.
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Tricoteuse is the word for “knitting girl” or “little knitter.” Artist William Adolphe Bouguereau seemed to really enjoy working with this subject, since he painted many different knitting girls. One of the most popular is this one from 1879:
The girl looks right out at the viewer, and it looks like her hands are still knitting. Any of us who have been interrupted knitting mid-row know this look. Here are some of the artist’s other paintings of knitting in art history:
These are all oil paintings.
Jean-Francois Millet’s Knitting in Art History
Millet is another nineteenth century oil painter who created several works featuring knitters. Two of the best are both called “The Knitting Lesson.” They each depict that age-old tradition of passing down the skill of knitting from one generation to the next:
Millet wasn’t the only one to paint this subject matter. There are many examples that show women teaching children to knit.
Millet also painted “The Knitting Shepherdess in different versions:
These are delightful in that the show the pleasure of just sitting alone, knitting. Even better, these women are getting sunshine and the benefits of nature while they knit.
Knitting in Art History: Women Knitting Outside
Here are some of the other artists who depicted women knitting outside in 19th century art history:
This is an 1888 oil painting by Charles Sillem Lidderdale.
This painting by Charles Sprague Pearce is called “Knitting in the Fields.” Also can we talk about that amazing coat the knitter is wearing?
Most of the nineteenth century paintings of knitters were painted by men. (Or at least, that’s what art history has recorded.) However, there were some recognized women painters during this time. For example, this painting, called Catinou Knitting” is by Anna Elizabeth Klumpke.
Women and Girls Knitting Together In Art History
As we know, knitting doesn’t have to be a solitary pursuit, even though it’s enjoyable as one. Alternatively, it can be a lot of fun to knit with others. After all, that’s why we all enjoy knitalongs. And even though the Internet wasn’t around back in the 19th century, women and girls certainly did knit together in pairs and groups. For example:
This is Winslow Homer’s 1884 painting, “Fishergirls on Shore.” Can’t you just imagine the types of things they’re discussing as they walk and knit together?
In the book “The History of Knitting in Art,” by Tulasi Zimmer you can see other paintings of women knitting together. For example, you’ll find Jozef Israels’ “Three Women Knitting By The Sea,” which looks like a delightful way to pass an afternoon. There are also three people picture in the Claude Bail 1972 oil painting called, “An Interior with Marken Girls Knitting.”
Men Knitting in Art History
The aforementioned book shows that mostly paintings of knitters at this time feature women. However, men have always been knitters, and there are two images that reflect this:
This one is “A Man Seated in a Doorway Knitting With His Dog,” by Rudolf Jordan. The other one shown in that book is Cal Spitzweg’s “The Knitting Look-Out,” which depicts a soldier seated by a cannon, looking out across the landscape, holding his green fabric that he’s knitting in his lap.
Get The Knitting in Art Book
What do you think each of these people were knitting in these images?!