Textiles at the Briscoe Museum

As many times as I’ve been to San Antonio, you’d think I would have seen every attraction in the city.  But when I was there last week, I noticed the Briscoe Western Art Museum, just across the street from La Villita, the historic art village.  I thought I must have been so busy shopping at Village Weavers over the years, that I had missed a whole art museum!

I went in to check it out on Thursday morning, and was relieved to find out that it just opened in October of 2013, so it wasn’t a case of me being totally oblivious over the years.

It is a lovely museum, very open and light-fiilled.  I enjoyed looking at all the galleries and it looks like they have room to add many more exhibits.  What I liked best was the way they mixed the objects on display – a gallery might have a wagon or a windmill positioned in the middle of photographs, sculptures, and musical instruments, with a documentary video playing as well.  Everyday working objects were placed along side of fancy or historically important ones, and many cultures were represented.

Of course I focused mainly on the textiles.  I didn’t realize it until I looked at my photos, but most of the clothing exhibited was men’s clothing.  You don’t see that so often.

So here are some wonderful examples of men’s clothing from the 1800s.  (Taking photographs through cases never turns out very well, but I am always so happy when a museum allows photography.  You can study the piece at your leisure and you see so much more detail.)

Remember that if you do a mouse-over, the colors will look more intense.

Mexican officer's uniform

Mexican officer’s uniform

jacket detail

Detail of the heavy gold thread.

coat with gold braid

Mexican officer’s coat

war shirt

Blackfoot war shirt (back) from about 1880s – 1890s.

comanchero jacket

Comanchero jacket, circa the 1750s. (Comancheros were Hispanic traders who traded with the Comanche people.) Those flowers were dyed with natural dyes, and they have lasted for 260 years!

And here is something you see even less often – horse trappings.  I haven’t had any horse-related textiles on the blog before!  Another field to research.

embroidered saddle

This incredible piece is labelled “Silk-embroidered Spanish viceroy saddle”, from the 1600s. That is blue velvet in the center section!  I think it needs a whole new term made up to do it justice.

iron fringe

This fringe is made of iron. Can you imagine how it jingles?

flower detail

Such precise stitches!

rabbit detail

The cloth ground looks like a repp weave to me.  Or an unsheared velvet?


I love this courtly couple!  With the plumes in her hair, her fan, his walking stick, their fine stockings – they cut a fine figure.

And if you need any further reason to plan a trip to the Briscoe, it’s right on the gorgeous River Walk in San Antonio.  The River Walk (Paseo del Rio) is a pedestrian walkway that meanders along about five miles of the San Antonio River, in the heart of downtown San Antonio, but below street level, so you can mingle with all the other turistas without worrying about getting run over.

River Walk 1

River Walk 2

River Walk 3

I have been traveling so much this summer, I haven’t had much time to do much with textiles – I was happy to get to see some fantastic pieces at the Briscoe!