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Blog 54 - The Mystery Scarf



Today I need your help. I usually have lots of information about the designer or company which made the scarf I am featuring, maybe where I bought it or certainly a memory or association which it evokes. For mystery scarf no.154 I have none, but I am sure a reader will give me some clues.



So how did I come by this latest addition to my collection? It came by post as a total surprise last week and the scarf has its own story. It did not arrive alone, but in the company of two others. They are all silk and the other two have hand rolled hems and I can identify their origin. I will talk of them another day. Let us for the moment concentrate on this brightly coloured fascinating piece of silk satin with hems……dare I say this….machine stitched, not rolled and stitched by hand! To my eye, it looks like Vincent Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. Remember Don McLean’s song? A good one for memory lane. Vincent painted this view from his ground floor studio of a mental asylum in St.Remy-de-Provence where he admitted himself for nearly a year. His actual bedroom was on another floor so it is likely he was remembering the night sky as he painted during daylight in his studio. One wonders what he was trying to describe or feel, painting the rising Sun, Moon, Venus and other stars as swirling orbs of vivid colour? He left out the iron bars of the asylum window through which he witnessed this view. I leave it to you to add any comments.



The interesting tale is how I came by the scarf. It was a gift. I did not know the previous owner. Her name was Joan and she loved animals, particularly dogs. When she died recently, without family, her estate was to be inherited by her named animal charities. Her will, probate, etc was administered by a lawyer whose friend works with Age UK. Her more valuable assets were sold but the last contents of her home and personal effects were to be removed by a house clearance company. The Age UK charity was asked if they could use anything from Joan’s home and thus inherited cloths, teapots, a Fortnum & Mason picnic hamper, sun parasols, walking sticks and other little items they could use to enrich the lives of the senior citizens of Richmond. This wonderful organisation has encouraged me in writing the blog and the eagle eye of their organiser Marie-Therese spotted a bag of what looked like silk scarves and she immediately thought of me. She and the lawyer opened the bag, which would have maybe gone to salvage and what was hidden therein? About £1500 in crisp notes wrapped up in The Starry Night! The abandoned doggies in Battersea or elsewhere would get some more decent meals and lodging as this windfall was added to Joan’s estate….and I inherited three more silk scarves. What an unexpected animal bonus from writing a blog.



There is a Beckford Silk label on the cellophane envelope containing the scarves. This is a silk manufacturer in England and I have written to them asking if they manufactured such a scarf. As yet, I have had no response. Perhaps Joan bought this scarf in New York as a souvenir at the Museum of Modern Art, where she may have viewed the painting? She was evidently a successful, well travelled lady with good taste and might have bought it in Provence in Arles or St.Remy. Now I could have written a blog about the south of France, where I have many memories of mountain villages just like this scene, but then this is not my story. (Mind you, maybe I will put the Alpes-Maritime on my travel wish list as well as Italy to see if I can capture that view.) In the meantime, I will try to keep my sanity. My hearing is not as sharp as it was and I need both my ears, so no self mutilation for me like poor Vincent. He wrote to his brother Theo, describing this painting as a failure. Yet I will wear my scarf today with pride and, if I can get up early enough tomorrow morning, look out for these stars. For certain, the sun will rise, but I am not sure that another artist may have painted a copy of Vincent’s original and this is featured on my scarf. I see little differences. It is very hot today so I am wearing it as a bandana round my head with Mexican silver earrings and a hand crafted bead bracelet from Portamaio, Portugal. I hope Vincent would approve….and of course Joan.


Busy Bee, Scarf Face!

Series 2, Blog 54.

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4 Comments


mtk1234
Jul 20, 2021

What a great sleuth you are Hazell - another string to your bow. And how lovely you have woven together all the details you have:)

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Hazell Jacobs
Hazell Jacobs
Jul 18, 2021

Thanks for comments so far. My scarf is definitely silk and had a small label saying so with cleaning advice. I have now researched further and find there are many different interpretations of Van Gogh’s Starry Night printed or hand painted on scarves.This one shows only part of the painting; the tall cypress tree is missing and all the stars are oval rather than round. If I get tired of blog writing, or run out of scarves, I might try my hand at a counterfeit painting. It’s probably about sixty years ago I painted a copy of Gaugin’s two Tahitian women, which is featured in one of my earlier blogs. Yet I think I am more suited to be a…

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jsuica
Jul 18, 2021

I may have solved the mystery. There are a few french websites that offer polyester machine stitched scarves of Van Gogh's work. I recently stumbled upon them while working on a new scarf related project. My scarf is of the famous Iris painting by Van Gogh.

We can learn so much from our treasures.

I first read about you in the New York Times and have been enjoying your posts ever since. Thanks you for sharing your memories with us.

Kind regards from France


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Rebecca Hodgkins
Rebecca Hodgkins
Jul 18, 2021

Such an intriguing mystery! Comparing the scarf to the original painting, I'd say this is not a copy but a reinterpretation since the two have obvious differences, so I think you could safely rule out the MET gift shop. Perhaps a little souvenir shop in Arles that stocked inexpensive mementos? That would be my guess. I do hope you solve the mystery and let us know! (Also, you have impeccable taste with your jewelry pairings.)

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