Motif: after Jean-François Millet
Type: Embroidered painting
Technique: Mixed embroidery
Year: 2017
Edition: Unlimited

Size: Small
Dimension: 30 x 20 cm | 11.8 x 7.9 in
Number of stitches: over 190,000
Thread length: over 2 km | over 1.2 mi
Thread colours: 35
Development: over 100 person hours


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About the artwork

The Gleaners is based on one of Jean-François Millet’s best works. As an epic hymn to labor and representation of class strife on a large-scale, the painting was uniquely modern in the 1850s. A warm golden light suggests something sacred and eternal in this daily scene where the struggle for survival takes place. The painting is the evidence of Millet being contemporary social critic. His brutal depiction of three hunched female paupers and rich harvest in the sunlit distance beyond demonstrates his attention to the plight of the poorest members of the society. The theme is an eternal one and can be linked to stories from the Old Testament but was received as an affront by the French upper classes.
Subtle gradations and extraordinary attention to details are best experienced under deep zoom magnification.

About the artist

Jean-François Millet was one of the founders of the French Barbizon school that pioneered painting en plein air, out of a studio. He is recognised as a representative of the realism art movement and particularly noted for his rural scenes. As such, he was a particularly important source of inspiration for young Vincent van Gogh in his early works.


Innovation of layering

We layer multiple colours of threads and so create rich embroidery and colour texture that is impossible to create with classic one-layer embroidery technique. By layering, we develop colour transitions and shadowing, by which we create multiple-colour surfaces, similar to pointillism painting.

Smooth transitions and shading

By intertwining threads of endless colours and creating colour transitions, we can shape soft shadows, make one surface transition into another and mix colours into an endless multitude of hues. This way, we can also recreate motives from photographs and sophisticated art paintings which wouldn’t be possible with classic embroidery technique, using vector surfaces.

Sophisticated colour calibration

Usually in embroidery, 10 or 20, maybe 30 colours of threads are used. We use around 1,000 colour hues and if a colour still doesn’t match the desired one, we create it by layering and colour transitions. We have digitally scanned colours of all threads by using a spectrograph, so we can colour match any colour from an original material or from CMYK, RGB or Pantone colour schemes.

The Gleaners by Ercigoj

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