Trials and Tribulations of the Croatian Lace

On the basis of lace highlights from the collection of The Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

By The Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Doily (20th Century) by Danica BrösslerThe Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Lace Collection of the Museum of Arts and Crafts

Lace collection consists of 350 objects and presents a part of the textile collection, which is one of the biggest and earliest museum collections. Together with many examples of European lace, the main part of the collection is composed of domestic lace pieces from Lepoglava (bobbin lace) and Pag (needle lace).

The Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Doily (20th Century) by Danica BrösslerThe Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Lace collecting started in 1883, when 50 pieces of different European lace were bought off from Jakob Krauth, painter and textile collector from Manheim, whose textile collection was the basis for the Royal Textile Collection in Krefeld. All these pieces of lace were documented and presented to the public in the Catalogue of the Textile Collection of the Arts and Crafts Museum in Zagreb (1907) by Jelica Belović Bernadzikowska, the former curator of the textile collection.

The golden age of the lace collecting was in the 1930s, when the collection was exhibited in a permanent exhibition and enriched with the best examples of Lepoglava and Pag.
After the Second World War, the collection was enriched through individual donations and acquisitions. One of the most important donation was the one from 1955 when textile expert Branka Hegedušić donated to the Museum her school work – lace made between 1924 and 1927 in the Women’s Trade School in Zagreb. In the last big donation from 2002, Marija and Ivo Tuškan donated to the Museum, among other objects, 78 pieces of lace.

Lace (20th Century) by Zlata ŠufflayThe Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Zlata Šufflay

Zlata pl. Šufflay (1873 – 1956) was born in the village of Jesenje. She was educated at the Teacher-Training School of the Sisters of Mercy in Zagreb, receiving her degree at the beginning of July in 1893. She taught in Lepoglava and Varaždinske Toplice and later worked at the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb as an expert for textiles, where she was presumably the first female museum worker. In 1920 she composed a catalogue of lace of the Museum of the Arts and Crafts entitled On lace, with theoretical introduction where she discussed the development of lace making, different techniques and types of lace, and included a detailed description with chronology of all the pieces of lace. The complete version of the catalogue is kept at the Museum archives.

A Practical Lacemaker

Zlata Šufflay was a practical lacemaker, making designs for lace on the basis of patterns found in folk textiles, but also a researcher exploring the history of lacemaking in Lepoglava. She drew a number of lace designs according to the motifs from folk textiles, as well as a number of her own designs inspired by Slavic mythology. Her designs and lacework made according to them were kept in albums which she made herself.

Zlata Šufflay believed that designing lace patterns is important and that the knowledge how the model for lacemaking is made is as important. She also thought that patterns should be copied from folk textiles. She worked on the development of the patterns which reflected her familiarity with the Slavic past. In 1925 her lace fan was awarded a silver medal at the International Exhibition in Paris.

Fan (20th Century) by Zlata ŠufflayThe Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

She donated to the Museum lacework from the time before and of the first lace workshop, together with two cylindrical pillows with the accompanying bobbins. Together with her work in the Museum, she was also engaged in research and study of the history of lace making, especially of Lepoglava lace making.

Zlata was a writer as well, her texts were published in newspapers and journals and she published a collection of stories. She published several articles on lacemaking in which she addresses the history of lacemaking in Lepoglava, Croatia and Europe at large and she also wrote about the collection of church lace in the treasury of the Zagreb Cathedral. Her most important published work is the book Croatian Folk Lace in Home and at the Altar (1918).

Fan shaped lace designed and made by Zlata Šufflay won a silver medal at the famous Paris Exhibition in 1925. Zlata Šuflay drew a number of lace designs according to the motifs from folk textiles, as well as a number of her own designs inspired by Slavic mythology.

Doily (20th Century) by Danica BrösslerThe Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Interwar Period

The directorship of Vladimir Tkalčić from 1933 to 1952 was the „golden era“ of lace collecting at the Museum as this was the period when the largest number of excellent pieces from Lepoglava and Pag were acquired. Before taking up the position of the director of the Museum of Arts and Crafts, Vladimir Tkalčić was a curator and former director of the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb. This experience gave him good insight into the condition of Croatian lacemaking on the island of Pag and in Lepoglava. Owing to his good knowledge of the situatuion in lacemaking in Lepoglava and on the island of Pag, and his friendship with the organizers of lacemaking, he managed to purchase for the museum laces made according to delicate designs of Franjo Budak (Pag), Danica Bröosler (Lepoglava Lacemaking School), Branka Hegedušić (Association for Promotion and Preservation of Croatian Folk Arts and Crafts from Zagreb).

Owing to his good knowledge of the situatuion in lacemaking in Lepoglava and on the island of Pag, and his friendship with the organizers of lacemaking, he managed to purchase for the museum laces made according to delicate designs of Franjo Budak (Pag), Danica Bröosler (Lepoglava Lacemaking School), Branka Hegedušić (Association for Promotion and Preservation of Croatian Folk Arts and Crafts from Zagreb).

Lace at Display

Lace exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Crafts permanent exhibition.

Doily (20th Century) by Danica BrösslerThe Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Lepoglava Laces

The Chamber of Commerce, Crafts and Industry of Zagreb established a lacemaking course in Lepoglava late in 1930. In 1936 the School for Lacemaking was established, built in 1937, with both a female section for lacemaking and a male section for weaving. In 1941 the school was renamed and became the State School for Lacemaking, with a separate section for wood carving.

Danica Brössler completed her education at the Teacher-Training School in Zagreb in 1930. She lived and worked in Lepoglava, as a teacer at the Lepoglava lacemaking course and schooll, from 1931 until 1942. She took over the creation of new designs and initiated technology change, the production and sale.

Doily (20th Century) by Danica BrösslerThe Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Danica Brössler co-operated with Vladimir Tkalčić, former director of Museum of Arts and Crafts, on the possible solutions for the problems of developing the craft of lacemaking in Lepoglava and of the supply of quality threads as well as product marketing.

In 1938 Brössler and Tkalčić published a catalogue of lace entitled Lepoglava Lace. The catalogue consists of a short introductory text dealing with the interconnections between Lepoglava and the Pauline monks, the art of lacemaking in Lepoglava with the school for lacemaking and the main characteristics of Lepoglava lace. It also includes catalogue descriptions of particular types of lace, with names, motifs, dimensions and description of the kind of thread used (its width and colour). This catalogue best exemplifies the creative work of Danica Brössler.

Collar (20th Century) by Danica BrösslerThe Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Danica Brössler received international awards for her work: in 1937 she won a gold medal in Paris, and in 1940 a bronze medal in Berlin.
Danica Brössler wrote several short texts on lacemaking; especially worthy of mention is her entry on lace in the Croatian Encyclopaedia, 1943.

Doily (20th Century) by Danica BrösslerThe Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Some of the Danica Brössler's lace motifs were inspired by the national, folk spirit of the interwar era, including motifs from Slavonian ornamented calabash, golden embroidery and old Croatian wattle ornaments. She also created a characteristic lace with floral patterns called “Baroque lace” whose technological characteristics classify it as duchese lace, albeit made in Croatia.

Lepoglava Lace

This lace is the best known and the most popular kind among the lacemakers and buyers. The same kinds of lace are still generally made in Lepoglava.

Doily (20th Century) by Branka HegedušićThe Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Branka Frangeš Hegedušić

Branka Hegedušić (1906 – 1985) was a doughter of the sculptor Robert Frangeš and the prominent cultural worker Ženka Frangeš. She graduated from Royal Women's High School in Zagreb. Between 1922 and 1923. as a student at the Women's Vocational School, department for arts, she made her first laces.

In 1928 she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. She spent two years (1928 – 1930) on professional training in textile design in Prague (lace design and making) and in Vienna (tapestry design and making). After returning to Zagreb in 1930, she was employed as a designer for all textile techniques, wood and leather in Association for Promotion and Preservation od Croatian Folk Arts and Crafts from Zagreb. Since 1933 she has also been working as a professional teacher, making series of lace designs with motifs from national history and rural life.

Pag Island

In 1931 Association for Promotion and Preservation od Croatian Folk Arts and Crafts from Zagreb founded Lace making course in Pag. Laces were made according to Branka Frangeš's designs, Franjo Budak designs and designs from Centralspitzenkurs in Vienna. Franjo Budak though that her designs for Pag laces were unprofessional so he insisted that he would make designs for Pag laces while she can make designs for needle lace, but not for Pag lace.

Doily (20th Century)The Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Branka Frangeš did not agree with his proposal and she referred to a survey conducted on Zagreb Fair, which concluded that new designs for Pag lace sholud be made because it is always the same. The conflict eventually resulted in the opening of Budak 's private lace school in November 1932.

Doily (20th Century) by Franjo BudakThe Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Pag Laces

Franjo Budak (1865 – 1944) was a salesman, and the former mayor of the city of Pag.
Franjo Budak started drawing lace designs since 1918, and he produced his best work during the early 1930s, when in 1932 he founded a private School of Lace. He employed twelve lace makers who developed lace from his designs and the designs of the drawing teacher from the County Lace School of Pag.

Lace work made from his drawings were presented on exhibitions in the country and abroad – such as the Zagreb Fair in 1922 and 1923, and the Yugoslav Art Fair in Saarbrücken and Metz in 1933.

Doily (20th Century) by Franjo BudakThe Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb

Franjo Budak was the only man documented to have engaged into the craft of lacemaking. Even though he is not a lace maker, as he never actually produced lace, but only the designs, he can certainly be called the only male designer of lace from Pag.

The geometric doily designed by Franjo Budak, former mayor of the city of Pag, was made by Pag lace-makers.It was exhibited at the Saarbrücken exhibition in 1933.

Credits: Story

Texts: Andrea Klobučar, Head of the Textile Collection; Tihana Petrović Leš, Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb

Special thanks to:
Google Coordinators:
Agata Wieczorowska
Liudmila Kobyakova

MUO Textile Restorers:
Antonina Srša, Iva Čukman

And Photographers:
Srećko Budek, Vedran Benović

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MUO Coordination: Petra Milovac

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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