Austrumu motīvi Jūlija Straumes daiļradē) Source: Mākslas Vēsture un Teorija (Art History and Theory
Oriental Motifs in the Art of Jūlijs Straume
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Textile artist Jūlijs Straume (1874–1970) is one of the leading masters of Latvian applied art. He is widely known for his richly ornamented textiles and attempts to introduce in Latvia the technique and traditions of Persian carpet weaving current in the Near and Middle East. Up to now, researchers have usually focused on the ornaments resembling Latvian textiles as well as patterns and stylised natural motifs composed by the artist himself. Straume has been praised for his ability to use vernacular ornaments in the carpet weaving technique not typical for Latvians. Oriental motifs in the artist’s output received less attention while carpet making traditions and historical legacy unavoidably influence their design and the use of ornament. Straume undoubtedly drew inspiration while collecting, collating and restoring sketches of traditional carpet designs of the Caucasian peoples. This Oriental influence was noticed but often depreciated. In 1925, two Oriental-style carpets made after Straume’s designs received the gold medal at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris. One of them complies with the traditions of Georgian vernacular art but the other, made in collaboration with the Georgian artist David Tsitsishvili (1901–1986), was made in the style of the Safavid dynasty (1501–1736). One of the works awarded in Paris is the carpet ‘Miri’ (1925) that, according to some researchers of Straume’s work, was titled with the Georgian term for the totality of technical and stylistic means of pattern making in the Persian technique. The other Straume carpet awarded at the 1925 exhibition is known by two titles: ‘Jungle’ and ‘Hunt’ (1924). This item fully complies with the canon of the Safavid dynasty’s court carpets and is especially lavish and artistically valuable. Ornamental motifs and blocks in the carpet ‘Hunt’ are rather similar to another of Straume’s works – an Oriental-style stationery box. The surface of its cover resembles a traditional medallion-based carpet. Detailed analysis of the prize-winning carpets and the stationery box confirms the artist’s wide-ranging knowledge of Oriental ornaments, their traditional motifs and blocks, their origins and symbolic meaning.
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