Navajo Textiles: The William Randolph Hearst Collection

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9780816510788: Navajo Textiles: The William Randolph Hearst Collection
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William Randolph Hearst's collection of Navajo textiles is one of the most complete gatherings of nineteenth-century Navajo weaving in the world. Comprising dozens of Classic Period serapes, chief blankets, Germantown eyedazzlers, and turn-of-the-century rugs, the 185-piece collection was donated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History in 1942 but for the next forty years was known only to a handful of scholars. Hearst began acquiring textiles from the Fred Harvey Company after viewing an exhibit of Indian artifacts. Over four decades he amassed a collection spanning more than a century of Navajo weaving and including nearly every major type produced from 1800 to 1920. Hearst's passion for American Indian artifacts was so strong that he had originally visualized his now-famous castle in San Simeon as a showplace for his Navajo textile collection. At a time when the Harvey Company was itself influencing the development of Indian handcrafts by opening up the tourist market, Hearst contributed to this influence by expressing his own artistic preference for rare and unusual pieces. This catalogue raisonné, featuring nearly 200 illustrations, provides the general public with the first look at this important collection. Nancy Blomberg's narrative introduces the reader to the history of Navajo weaving and documents Hearst's role in its development. The heart of the book provides a detailed analysis of each textile: fibers, yarn types, dyes, and designs. Navajo Textiles thus constitutes an invaluable reference for scholars and collectors and will be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates these beautiful creations from the Navajo loom.

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Review:

"The rich visual feast of nearly 200 illustrations of a previously unpublished collection would be cause enough for celebration. But Blomberg has not been content to provide her readers only with photographs of beautiful and interesting weaving. She has used the collection as a point of departure to discuss and analyze this important era in the history of art. . . . Navajo Textiles: The William Randolph Hearst Collection offers something for everyone. It is a lavishly illustrated catalogue of a major, previously unpublished collection, a valuable scholarly resource and a rich visual feast for art lovers everywhere." —American Indian Arts"This is a beautifully produced book, cataloguing and illustrating for the first time one of the outstanding collections of Navajo weaving of the last half of the nineteenth century. . . . It is of great value not only to the scholar and collector but to anyone interested in this incredible art of the Navajo Indian." —The Journal of Arizona History

From Library Journal:

In his 40-year quest to amass the best and the brightest examples of Navajo textiles woven between 1800 and 1920, Hearst obtained more than 200 weavings, which he ultimately donated to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Assistant curator Blomberg documents these weavings in a volume that can be appreciated by both casual reader and specialist. The former will browse through full-page color illustrations of each weaving and fascinating accounts of the marketing of Navajo textiles from weaver to reservation trader to merchant to consumer. The latter will find a detailed analysis of each piece, including physical description, dating, and a transcription of written documentation from vendor tags and ledger books. Recommended. Janice Zlendich, California State Univ. Lib., Fullerton
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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