As the end of the year (aka gift giving season) rolls up with the top down, I thought I’d show off one of my favorite custom embroidery jobs from the archives.
I recently finished this custom piece for a dear friend. He wanted to gift an artwork to a friend who loved wrestling and wrestling history. He picked an image from this series of photographs by Irving Penn from 1945 and told me to have at it.
The man in this photo is Maurice Tillet (1903-1954), the most notorious wrestler of the 1940s, better known by his ring name, ~THE FRENCH ANGEL~.
If you’ve been to Chicago’s International Museum of Surgical Science, you’ve probably seen a bust of The French Angel.
The plaque there tells more of this man’s story:
“He studied 14 languages, wrote poetry, and aspired to become an actor. However, his dreams were shattered when he developed acromegaly in his twenties. … This disorder is caused by an abnormal production of growth hormone usually related to a benign tumor of the pituitary gland… With his new body, Tillet, an educated man and a lover of the fine arts, felt like a monstrosity. Unable to face a life of constant gawking and humiliation, he decided to make drastic changes and use his condition to his benefit.”
At the end of his life, Maurice was a Chicago boy. He died here, too, of a heart attack that came on after he heard that his trainer died. <sobbbbbbing>
My color choices for his wings and the stars on his belt are a direct reference to the Chicago flag.
I almost put the fourth star on Maurice’s belt too, but I just had to do something about Dorian there…
The angle of her foot, the shape of that heel… oh la la, there’s just so much I love about that aspect of the original photograph. I put the last star beneath it to give Dorian her own special place in this piece.