In the fifties of the last century, DMC published a book with Assisi embroidery patterns. I own a German edition "Assisi stickereien".
There exist, out of that same period, at least one Italian publication by Ancora: "Punto Assisi e punto scritto".
Even today you can buy, in the town of Assisi, "Punto Assisi", an Italian edition by Minerva (1998), also with patterns. In this town they sell ready-made embroideries (a few dozens different patterns).
1988 there has been edited a book of Eva Maria Letzner. It's a English
translation of the German original. The editor is Batsford, the title
There is no doubt that patterns in these publications are based upon, and often are identical with patterns from about 1900, when there was a revival of making embroidery in and around Assisi. (see also "history"). Presumably there existed at that time also more complicated patterns. If you have examples: they are very welcome.
I use the information out of the above mentioned publications for the definition of the style "Assisi embroidery".
It's countable embroidery.
Only the contours of the motifs are embroidered, with no or just a few details inside. The background gets filled.
You can find these characteristics also in other embroidery. The next characteristics are the most important and with these you can immediately distinguish the Assisi style from other embroidery styles.
The motifs: animal-figures, among which there are many birds and animals with a mythical character. Often they evoke associations with existing animal species. Sometimes it looks like a complete new specie. Quite often they seems angry or mean or inscrutable. The other parts looks like flowers, branches, leaves, fruits. Often you see a candelabra motif to separate mirrored motifs.
The division of the plane: Motifs are placed in such a way that you find nowhere big empty spaces. Some motifs are used to make a connection between the different parts of the design. Often this is done in a exceptional beautiful way and gives nice " looking-directions". The design is almost always meant for repetition.
Two colors are used. One color for the contours of the motifs, the other for the background. The contours are made in a straight stitch, the background in cross stitch.
Some more characteristics:
Generally there is a border (I call it the "contour border") along the top and underneath the design. There also you find a repetition of motifs. These motifs are geometric or reminds you of flowers and plants. These borders are made in a straight stitch, with sometimes, here and there, a cross stitch. The color is almost always the color of the background.
Often there are, in the Italian edition of the sixtieth, small geometric motifs in the main design. Even more distinctive, in that edition, is that the contours of the motifs are only made of horizontal and vertical stitches with just a very few diagonal stitches, as if the designer wants to show that he knows: "that's also possible". Here below you can find an example.
Added in 2009
Since about a year I have the book " guida practica per l'insegnamento del punto di Assisi" van Chiara Cernetti Battistelli, an edition from 1925. There are more then 150 designs, small and big, in it. Many of the designs in the books mentioned above you find back in this book. But there are also others. Beautiful , very mysterious designs, some really primitive. According to the writer some of the motives origins in the 13th and 14th century (the more primitive, more rugged designs, image below) and from the 15th and 16th century ( more sophisticated, more recognizable, image below)
In the same year, 1925, the book "Punto Assisi" from Adèle della Porta was also released. The difference of quality with the book of Batistelli is very noticeable: weak motives, weak outlines or no outline at all. Outlines not contrasting. or outlines in stem stitch that gives smooth lines, to simple and to sweet motives. Look at the two examples below:
On a few sites you can find a photograph of an design, which, according to the designer, is made in de style of Assisi. Apart from the fact that the background is filled up and from the motifs only the contours are outlined, hasn't it nothing to do with Assisi embroidery: No relationship between the motifs, no animal-like figures, no border, no symmetry. In short all the characteristics witch makes the style so powerful and charming are missing.