Antoinette von Kahler's decorative ribbons


Antoinette von Kahler (1862-1951), Embroidered silk ribbons, [1940s]. Graphic Arts Collection, GC065 Kahler Decorative Ribbons Collection. Gift of Mrs. Erich (Alice) Kahler.

Austrian-born Antoinette von Kahler and her son Erich Kahler (1885-1970) fled Nazi-occupied Germany in 1933. They arrived in the United States in 1938 and settled in Princeton, New Jersey, where their friend Thomas Mann (1875-1955) had also taken up residence. The Kahler’s Princeton home at One Evelyn Place became known as Kahler-Kreis (Kahler-Circle) where German intellectuals gathered, including Albert Einstein, Mann, Erwin Panofsky, Ben Shahn, and Hermann Broch.

Early in the 20th century, Antoinette Von Kahler wrote a number of children’s books (several are in the Cotsen children’s book collection). After settling in Princeton, she took up embroidery and designed a number of silks with biblical themes and Jewish iconography. Ben Shahn, an artist and family friend, is said to have been an admirer of her work. After her son’s death, her daughter-in-law arranged for this collection of thirty-three ribbons to be given to Dale Roylance, then curator of the graphic arts collection.