Virginia Sarbu

Lives Remembered

Virginia Sarbu was a woman of many talents.

She was best known as a tapestry artist but was also a gifted musician with an exceptional singing voice. A friend recalled her: "She spoke perfect French and English and was very beautiful but extremely modest."

Born in the village of Pietrari at the foot of the Carpathian mountains in Romania, she was the daughter of Gheorghe Lungu, a farmer and baker. Her mother, Maria, had a gift for making tapestries and found a willing pupil in her daughter. But she later surpassed her and became well known for her contribution to the art.

When she was 19 Lungu married Professor Ion Sarbu, an eminent philosopher, teacher and musician. They had two children, both of whom became distinguished musicians. Their son Eugene became internationally known as a great violinist whowent on to win many competitions,inclusing the Paganini and the Carl Flesch.

Sarbu recalled his mother with great affection: "I remember vividly when I was small my dear mother coming with me to every violin lesson, sitting ona chair in the corner, listening intently, noting every mistake I made whilst her hands were busy working on a tapestry. She did the same thing when my little sister had pianolessons. At home, often, we hadrehearsals with with my sister –who later became a distinguished soloist – accompanying me, my father conducting us, my mother doing what she knew best."

After their children were well established in their respective careers, Virginia was able to develop and concentrate on her beloved art of tapestry; her works were admired everywhere. In 1996, there was a memorable exhibition in London organised by the Romanian Embassy, where more than 100 of her works were displayed and enjoyed success unprecedented for this field of art. The Sarbu family remained united even when separated by land and sea; they finally took up residence in London, where they have lived for many years.

Virginia left behind 200 examples of her tapestries, mostly modelled on the Impressionists and other great masters of art. She was also an excellent exponent of Romanian cookery and her dinner parties were well remembered by those friend fortunate enough to be invited.

Virginia Lungu, tapestry maker: born Pietrari, Romania 25 May 1931; married 1920 Professor Ion Sarbu (one son, one daughter); died London 29 July 2011.

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