Vladimir Stasov, well-known as a champion of Russian art and music, proved equally forceful as an advocate for Russian needlework. Yet this key component of his scholarship has been relegated to secondary status; remedying this neglect is the aim of this article. Stasov’s well-known publication, Russkii narodnyi ornament (1872), has traditionally been discussed as a treatise on ornament, however its main emphasis was needlework and it needs to be analyzed as such. Further, Stasov influenced others to take up the cause of Russian national needle art, in particular Sofia Davydova whose tome on Russian lace, Russkoe kruzhevo i russkie kruzhevnitsy (1886), made a major contribution to Russian art and culture. Stasov’s scholarship and promotion of needlework needs to be thoroughly understood in order to have a more complete understanding of Russian material culture and this article is a starting point toward that goal.
Neo-nationalism was concerned with a new aesthetic, not just in the fine arts but also in the crafts, particularly needlework. One way that this aesthetic was disseminated for needle art was through publications—magazines, pattern books, how-to-manuals, guides for schools, and the like. Publications on needlework were produced throughout the nineteenth century, and their output increased toward the end of the 1800s, with many portraying peasant imagery and patterns associated with this new style of Neo-nationalism. This article explores how needlework publications propagated Neo-nationalist art to a broad audience and the key role they played in shaping the cultural milieu of the Russian late Imperial period.