|Lace making 'pillow' used for bobbin lace with bobbins, C16, Museo Correr, Venice|
was part of the Venetian dress code of the sixteenth century, and later Venice
became an important centre for lace making.
On this page are images of extant lace, the tools used to produce it, and
portraits showing this lavish trim. It
was not uncommon to find more than one kind of lace used in conjunction with
another, i.e. Punto in aria and reticella.
|Portrait of a Woman Seated with Glove in Hand, Domenico Tintoretto, late 16th century.||Portrait of a Woman Seated, Domenico Tintoretto, late 16th century. Location unknown|
know little for certain about the origins of bobbin lace. The case is otherwise
for needle lace. Textile historians agree that Venetian openwork embroidery was
the direct progenitor of this form of lace. According to Anne Kraatz (Lace:
History and Fashion) in the early 1500's the exquisite embroideries for
which Venice was famous, were becoming ever and ever more open and less and less
of the foundation fabric upon which it was worked remained in the finished
pieces. At the peak of it's development, this openwork embroidery evolved to an
extreme form called Reticella. In Reticella only the
geometric frames of woven fabric, upon which the outline stitches were done
remained in the finished work. Open areas from which the woven threads had been
removed were filled with needle-woven designs to provide the ornate fillings
which were the final step toward the first true needle lace.
|Instructions from 'le Pompe 1559, Pattern for Venetian Bobbin Lace'||Instructions and lace from 'le Pompe 1559, Pattern for Venetian Bobbin Lace'|
with cutwork and bobbin lace, Italy,
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Linen, needle lace, punto tela and punto treccia Italy 228.5 cm Long 14 cm Deep. Museo Correr, Venice
rather than go to the work of removing so much of the original fabric, the
embroiderers began to lay down outline threads, couched to a pattern. The
framework of the design was worked over these threads, while at the same time,
the fillings of decorative stitches and designs were worked so that all the
parts of the lace grew together as the work progressed. The early needle lace
was termed Punto in Aria - literally, stitches in air.
Lace edged linen table cloths are a feature in Paolo Veronese show us in his ‘Feast in the House of Levi’, 1573, Oil on canvas, 555 x 1280 cm, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice, in a detailed examination of this work, the edge appears to be embellished with silk embroidery, cutwork or lace. Linen was imported from Flanders or England (Fontini-Brown 1997, 22), while cotton, a more expensive commodity was imported from Egypt (Fontini-Brown 1997, 22). Displays of lavish applications of lace on bed linens of the Venetian home were frequently seen. The lavish applications of lace on bed linens of the Venetian home are seen in Paolo Veronese’s Leda and the Swan, oil on canvas; and Venus at Her Toilette 1582, Joslyn Art Museum, oil on canvas 65 x 49 inches.
Want some 'Bling" in your Lace?
In Gold and Silver Lace, Part I, Jourdain, M. The Connoisseur, Vol. 17 (1906), that can be accessed at this link http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/articles/jm_lacep.pdf Ms Jourdain cites a Venetian sumptuary law in 1542 on gold and silver laces restricting their widths to due dita, i.e. about 5 centimetres.
It is important to note that if a sumptuary law is made in order to restrict excesses of an object, it stands to reason there these excesses are being practised. If not, there would be no need for the laws to be passed.
Gold and silver laces were not able to be worked as finely as linen or silk laces as the base 'threads' were not as fine as their less shiny counterparts. Patterns therefore were larger and simpler than the non metal laces.
Again there is no visual record of these laces being used in Ruff production or on gowns, but there is on undergarments. We do have ample evidence of both cloths of gold and silver, and gold and silver laces. It is not hard to leap to these materials being used to make Ruffs, or to adorn gowns.
The extant chemise/camica above polychrome coloured silks being used. While acquired in Italy, it shares a strong resemblance to a trousseau house in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Those garments are now classified as being of Sicilian origin. In context of time these were created, Sicily was not part of Italy. It is a beautiful example of lavish polychrome needle work and polychrome and gold lace embellishments. Whilst not Venetian, it feels like it could have easily found it's place in a Venetian wardrobe.
All intellectual content, composition, layout, designs and photographs copyright 2007 to Deborah Lane © , 2003 to Deborah Murray © or Mistress Oonagh O'Neill ©. All Original renaissance art works and artefacts are not copyright to Deborah Lane, and are shown for educational use only. If you see something you'd really like to use, please contact me!