It reminds me of how we have for a few years now, also have used classical paintings as a component of our collection.
One of the first ones must have been Rembrandt's iconic "The Nightwatch" or "de Nachtwacht"
Being Dutch-born, this painting is so much part of our cultural heritage. It is apparently part of the mandate that every young person in Holland must see it at least once.
As a designer you want to tell stories and therefore Rembrandt's "de Staalmeesters" means a lot to me as someone who works with cloth.
This painting by Rembrandt is of the drapers who were elected to assess the quality of cloth that weavers offered for sale to members of their guild. Their one-year terms in office began on Good Friday and they were expected to conduct their inspections thrice weekly. The Dutch word staal means 'sample' and refers to the samples of cloth that were assessed. The inspectors used pliers to press the seals of their city (front) and guild (reverse) into penny-sized slugs of lead that were specially affixed to record the results of the inspection. There were four grades of quality, the highest was indicated by pressing four seals and the lowest by pressing only one.
It is interesting to note that when we first came up with the idea to do this we realized that we needed high res images to make this possible. Downloading images from the internet just does not give a high enough resolution and, as these images are digitally printed onto cloth (they are not screen printed as a t-shirt), we always need to prove to our fabric printing company that we actually have permission to use the images.
We contacted the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and asked for permission, and low behold shortly there after we actually received an E-mail from them with the high resolution images attached! (Wow cool is that?)
Another one of our favorites is Jan Steen's "Merry Family" . I have almost loved the idea about Steen using a lot of real/ordinary people as his subject matter rather then popes, kings and officials.
Speaking of story telling, our best selling piece has been and continues to be Bruegel's "Dutch Proverbs"
The piece itself is huge, so we usually only use parts of it on each piece. It breaks my heart every time we receive it as a total painting and I put the scissors to the cloth (organic stretch cotton by the way).
By the way the Bruegel is not part of the Rijksmuseum collection but hangs in Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.
One thing we try to do is also inform people about the piece and encourage people to learn more about them, such as as the proverbs that are to be found in the Bruegel piece. It makes it seem like you are wearing a conversation piece .
There are times we use the pieces as a an image onto a garment or there are times when we use it to print the entire fabric and use it as cloth like Willem Roelofs "Seaside at Heyst"
There are also times when we use a number of images and collage them.
It continues to be fun and rewarding to work with this concept and I don't think we will ever grow tired of doing so.
If you are interested some of these pieces are in the webshop, others can always be ordered, you need just ask.