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Hanging, Shells IV

This is a Hanging. It was designed by Dora Jung and woven by Dora Jung. It is dated 1957 and we acquired it in 1959. Its medium is linen and its technique is satin weave with interlocking tapestry. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Shells II is one of a series of four shell weavings created by Finnish textile designer Dora Jung (1906-1980). As journalist Charles Talley observed in a 1985 article in FiberArts, the series epitomizes Dora Jung’s ability to “sketch” at the loom, working out and refining a design through successive woven drafts. Indeed, Shells I took a single day to weave; Shells II took two; Shells III, four; and Shells IV, the last and most complex in the series, eight.

Jung is a venerated figure in Finnish textile design, recognized for her mastery of the damask technique and innovative use of abstract natural motifs. Damask combines multiple weave structures to produce a subtle pattern, sometimes only visible in raking light. In Shells II, for example, Jung variegates the tan shell pattern by alternating a weft-faced twill weave and a warp-faced satin weave.

The museum acquired Shells II in the late spring of 1959, shortly after then-curator Alice Beer met Jung during her two-month tour of the United States. It was acquired with a second piece, Pigeons, a linen damask panel with brocaded accents. Beer’s idea was that together, these two examples would demonstrate the breadth of Jung’s work. Reflecting on her trip, Jung signs off a letter to Beer, “My trip round your enormous country was most interesting. I saw beautiful collections…and the nature was marvelous.”

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled An Eye for Nature: Dora Jung’s Shell Tapestries.

It is credited Museum purchase from Au Panier Fleuri Fund.

  • Hanging, Vitae
  • linen, wool, silk.
  • Gift of Elizabeth Gordon.
  • 1964-24-65

Its dimensions are

H x W: 60 x 57.2 cm (23 5/8 x 22 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Hanging, Shells IV; Designed by Dora Jung (Finnish, 1906–1980); Finland; linen; H x W: 60 x 57.2 cm (23 5/8 x 22 1/2 in.); Museum purchase from Au Panier Fleuri Fund; 1959-143-2

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Hanging, Shells IV |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>