Purchase, Friends of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Gifts, 2011
Not on view
Swifts had to open and shut in the same way as an umbrella. The axis spoke or central rod facilitates this movement. The strips are joined with steel rings, and a thumbscrew set on the lower shaft keeps the swift in the desired position. A skein of silk thread or tapestry yarn was wrapped tautly around its extended frame, which would then rotate as the thread was wound around a sewing spool.
Tula is a region in Russia in the Srednerossky hills to the south of Moscow whose capital town of Tula has been famous for the remarkable metalwork it has produced since the construction of the armoury by Peter the Great in 1712. The mastery of the craftsmen and their diamond cutting of the steelworks of art, as well as arms and armour, was unrivalled throughout Europe.
Inscription: Inscribed in ink on paper label adhered to underside of foot: 16717
Private Collection, Belgium ; [ Continental dealer ; sold to Finch ] ; [ Finch and Co. , London, until 2011; sold to MMA ]
Artist: Unknown Artist, Swiss, Austrian, or German, active Russia ca. 1703–4 Date: probably shortly before 1704Medium: Red pine (pinus sylvestris), with wrought-iron clipsAccession: 1996.7On view in:Gallery 551