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Photographs by Alain Rousseau

I first met Daniel and Josiane Fruman through the Paris photographer Alain Rousseau. He had told me about this fascinating couple and their amazing collection of ancient embroideries, which they had been collecting for more than thirty years. Because I cover and report upon Haute Couture, where incredible embroidery is a fact of life, I was interested to meet the Frumans and to possibly see their pieces.

The Frumans’ two hundred pieces of embroidered liturgical ornaments and devotional panels from the XVth to the XXth century collected by are known and recognized by many textile curators of major museums over the world. Here is what the Frumans say about their collection: “The collection comprises a large variety of items which can be differentiated by the materials employed (silk, wool, gold and silver threads, glass beads, paillettes, etc.), by the techniques (or nué (shaded gold), raised, couched and applied work, etc.), by their function (chasubles, dalmatics, antependia, chalice veils, altarpieces, etc.), by their iconography and by their artistic accomplishment. Some pieces of the collection are truly exceptional ; among them we can mention two altar frontal ornaments embroidered in the Escorial workshop during the last quarter of the XVI century, a late XVI century dalmatic from the Monastery of Monte Casino, a hood depicting the Resurrection of Christ from the set of king Fernando VI embroidered by Antonio Gomez de los Rios between 1743 and 1756 for the Chapel of the Royal Palace in Madrid, an altar frontal that was probably displayed during the inauguration of the Mafra Abbey near Lisbon on October 22nd 1730, and a rare raised work embroidery representing Mary Madeleine in front of her grotto.”

Some pieces of the collection have been presented in exhibits such as French Textiles in the Hartford Atheneum, Connecticut, USA, Fils de foi-chemins de soie at the Château de Chambord, France, Livres en Broderie at the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Paris, and Jouer la Lumière at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

The collection is today at the core of a project for the creation of an International Center for Artistic Embroidery in the medieval city of Mirepoix, in the southwest of France. Mirepoix is situated at the foot of the Pyrenees, 80 km from Toulouse, 50 km from Carcassonne and only 30 km from Montsegur, the mythic place of the Cathare history. The city develops around a medieval place surrounded by covered galleries (couverts), a gothic cathedral and an Episcopal Palace built by Philippe de Levis in the sixteenth century. The palace, once restored, can accommodate enough museum space to house the collection and to develop around it a certain number of activities, among them workshops, meetings and congresses, permanent and temporary exhibitions, continuum education on design, conservation, restoration and analysis of embroideries, cultural events, conferences and visits of other textile centres, and children activities.

An association aimed at gaining the support of the population of Mirepoix and the Ariège Department and at finding for individuals or companies willing to sponsor the project has been created.


Maison des Pyrénées, 15, rue Saint-Augustin, 75002 Paris or




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