As readers can see, two posts back, at the beginning of this past month, a German reader wrote me to confirm the identity of the unknown designer I had last written of in the fall of 2017, and called “The Bird Artist” after her tendency to make tapestries with figures of both birds and horses. This reader identified her as a Hungarian mid-century designer, apparently still alive today. Her name is Éva Németh. Her tapestries carried a signature which we puzzled over but NE was a possibility. Now it is also clear that her signature is NÉ with the distinctive little pronunciation symbol on on the E, which figures in both her first and last names.
There is one recent new development, an email with a photograph of the tag carried on one of these rugs. You can see that it is a tag of an apparently Hungarian company, Ziola, signed Németh Éva at the bottom. But what this tag also tells us is why so many of these small tapestries were sold to Swedes, Danes, and Americans traveling to Scandinavia. They may have been designed by a Hungarian and made in Hungary, but they were marketed by Illums Bolighus in Copenhagen. Illums Bolighus was from its founding, an avant-garde marketer of good design, and still held that reputation for post-war visitors to Denmark. Many customers carried Németh’s small tapestries home with them.
One of my earlier posts (called “A Wider World”) was about the launch of the career of the Swedish rug designer, Ingrid Dessau. She married a Dane named Kai Dessau. This is from that earlier post, about the founding of this important Danish store, which was parallel in importance in many ways to Nordiska Kompaniet in Stockholm:
“Dessau was 26 years older than Ingrid, born in 1897. He trained first as a painter, but found that he had a talent for promoting good modern design, founding a home-furnishings store called BO based on a completely novel idea about marketing. This store, which operated in Copenhagen from 1925-41, (and still continues today as Illums Bolighus), was among the first anywhere to show well-designed twentieth-century furniture, textiles, lighting and art in room-like settings. As one writer noted later about the store, “it is arranged in displays you could practically move into.” Dessau’s partner in this enterprise was a textile designer named Brita Drewson who had been born in Sweden and trained at the Stockholm läns hemslöjd.”
I would like to thank Andreas Krabbe at Bruun Rasmussen auction house in Denmark for sending me this photo and thus adding another detail to our understanding of the source of these tapestries. Crowd-sourcing of information seems to be alive and well in the blog world! Thanks to all who contributed your attention, sharp eyes, and knowledge. I’m sure there will be other textile mysteries for us to track down in future!
Bruun Rasmussen Auction House, Copenhagen; Andreas Krabbe, Modern Design specialist. Németh tapestries are item 970 in BR auction 1849: written 1849/970 in a search.