Saturday, March 29, 2014

Unusual Artifacts: Italian Silk Velvet Woven with Metallic Threads, 1450-1500

The Victoria & Albert Museum

In the late Medieval period, silk velvets were considered the most luxurious textiles—the stuff of courtiers and clergymen throughout Europe. By the Fifteenth Century, the most elegant silk velvets were produced in Italy as Italian weavers grew more proficient in producing more complex designs incorporating colored silks and gold threads.

This Italian example, made between 1450 and 1500, is considered a traditional “pomegranate pattern”, but it more closely resembles a thistle than it does a pomegranate. The center motif is outlined in dark emerald green, filled in with gold, and peppered with deep red “seeds.” This is surrounded by gold leaves, and green flowers, within a wine-colored trefoil shape.

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