Date of this Version
Published in Hidden Stories/Human Lives: Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 17th Biennial Symposium, October 15-17, 2020. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
Romeyne Robert, married as Ranieri di Sorbello, started an embroidery school in 1904 in Umbria, at the family’s country estate of Pischiello. Her goal was to teach young peasant women to emancipate themselves by learning the craft of embroidery. She was inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement in America and by contemporary programs developed in settlement houses along the East Coast. Their aim was to help the emancipation of immigrant women from Italy by fostering the recovery of artisan skills. At the Sorbello Embroidery School, Romeyne rediscovered the Renaissance technique originally called the punto Umbro, later renamed punto Sorbello. She started the commercial co-operative Arti Decorative Italiane, which aimed to publicize and sell the articles produced both by her school and by other emerging embroidery schools. Romeyne collaborated closely with Carolina Amari, one of the most accomplished textile designers of her time. Carolina Amari was well known in wider circles related to women’s emancipation: she was influential in setting up Industrie Femminili Italiane, in 1904. During her stay in the United States, with the sponsorship of prominent personalities in the Italian American community such as Florence Colgate and Gino Speranza, she set up the Scuola di Industrie Italiane in 1908. A number of pieces from the Sorbello Embroidery School are now held by the Cooper Hewitt Museum, which also holds pieces produced by Arti Decorative Italiane and by Scuola di Industrie Italiane. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, holds an important sampling of embroideries by Carolina and Francesca Amari. Our paper aims to analyze the main patterns developed by the Sorbello Embroidery School and describe the cultural background that underpinned the movement of artistic philanthropy and women’s emancipation in early twentieth-century Italy. It also focuses on the personalities of pioneer entrepreneurs and textile designers such as Romeyne and Carolina Amari.