Barbro Nilsson for AB Märta Måås-Fjetterström 'Salerno' Carpet
Barbro Nilsson for AB Märta Måås-Fjetterström, carpet, model ‘Salerno’, wool on linen warp, Sweden, design 1948
Exceptional hand-woven, blue-toned carpet designed by the celebrated Swedish textile designer Barbro Nilsson in 1948. This particular pattern is inspired by the pattern Nilsson specially designed for a hospital of the chapel in Scala, Italy. This design is a simplified version of the original design and is described as “Salerno med enkel bärd”. The Salerno rug was specially commissioned to honor a tragic incident. In 1947, a cargo plane crashed near Scala, a small town located north of the historic city of Salerno in Italy's Monti Latteri region. The aircraft carried twenty-five Swedish Air Force pilots, and despite the valiant efforts of Italian locals, only four of them managed to survive. The Swedish Government commissioned the MMF workshop to create a commemorative rug, which would be presented as a gift to the chapel of the hospital in Scala, where the survivors received medical care. This particular piece was woven from blue wool, accented by brown sections. Within the vertical pattern details of the rug, one can discern hints of brown, blue, and yellow. These elements symbolize small airplanes, while the triangular sections evoke Italy's mountains. The blue hues in the rug represent the sea. These motifs, coupled with the serene composition and subtle colors of the carpet, transform this national tragedy into something profoundly touching and beautiful.
As with all her designs, Nilsson wove her initials ‘B N’ and AB MMF (meaning AB Märta Måås-Fjetterström) at the edge of the carpet.
Barbro Nilsson (1889- 1983), née Lundberg, was a Swedish textile designer from Malmö, Sweden. In 1904 her family moved to Stockholm where her father, Carl T. Lundberg, was the manager of the department store ‘Nordiska Kompaniet’(NK). At the age of fourteen, Nilsson started her education in weaving and textile design at the Brunssons Vävskola that was founded by Johanna Brunsson in 1843. Nilsson continued her education at the ‘Tekniska Skolan’ (technical academy) in Stockholm where she enriched her skills in weaving even further. In 1928 she married to the sculptor Robert Nilsson (1894-1980) with whom she collaborated with on numerous of tapestries. Barbro Nilsson excelled in combining color and form, and her creative combinations and different weaving techniques makes her work unique among other Scandinavian textile designers from the 20th century. She became the right hand to Swedish textile designer Märta Måås-Fjetterström (1873–1941), who founded a weaving studio Båstad in 1919. After Måås-Fjetterström passed away in 1942, Nilsson took over the leadership of the studio. Here she created new carpet patterns and experimented with different techniques such as the traditional Swedish hand-knotted ‘flossa’ technique in relief, flat weave and knotted-pile technique. Up until this day, the studio is widely recognized for its carpets and tapestries of remarkable skillful craftsmanship and designs of artistic and cultural value. Their approach to design and weaving is passed on from generation to generation. A team composed of well-educated weavers using the exact same techniques devised over 100 years ago. In 1983 Barbro Nilsson passed away and will be remembered as one of the most accomplished textile designers of the 20th century.
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