Sunday, July 25, 2010

Italian and French silk velvets

Since I mentioned in my last post that I was both a collector and antique textile dealer and my passion was Italian silk velvets I’ve received some lovely emails asking me to SHOW YOU…. since you’ve all asked so very nicely how could I resist sharing.

It was the Chinese who first unraveled a cocoon thousands of years ago to make silk. It was the Spanish and Italians who elevated silk velvets into some of the most luxurious works of art. Velvets were among the most highly prized and most expensive luxury fabrics of the Renaissance. (Be sure to click on the picture to bring it up bigger for viewing. )

Italian, circa 1450, Ferronerie velvet with pomegranate design, green being one of the most rare of colors. Ferronerie velvet: curved, linear woven patterns reminiscent of decorative wrought-iron work.

Italian, 1540, brocaded/voided silk velvet featuring an ogival pattern of branches with a central pomegranate motif. The flowers, pomegranates and leaves are further embellished with boucle, a heavy gold metal thread pulled up to form loops. Due to cost by the turn of the 17th century raised metal boucle work had disappeared into history forever.

Circa 1580 Italian symmetrical "candelabra" pattern of alto-e-basso or pile-on-pile of silk cut velvet. Called "candelabra" pattern due to the many branches in the design. Pile-on-pile refers to two layers of threads, one higher than the other. Alto-e-basso is Italian meaning high and low.

Florentine circa 1600 cut voided pile-on-pile velvet with an extremely large flower motif brocaded in real silver metal thread. Because of the large floral design this was more than likely made for wall covering. All those light colored areas is actually the silver thread.

The next four velvets were all woven in Genoa Italy around 1600 all being cut voided velvet. Voided velvet: when areas of the ground are left free of pile. Since projecting pile-required quantities of silk thread, voided velvet was less expensive to manufacture than solid-pile velvet or brocaded velvet.

with silver metal thread ground, brocaded velvet

Two toned green and red pile with tabby ground

Small patterned velvet with strawberries

Velvet design embroidered with gold metal thread

17th century Italian purple voided silk velvet on a gold ground

The firm of Maison Hamot in France and a manufacturer of Krefeld, Germany both in the 19th century perfected the art of copying silk velvet designs. The next two silk velvets are such examples both being of Byzantine designs. The third design is being of a 16th century design.

11th Byzantine design from Maison Hamot

Byzantine design from Krefeld

19th century Italian of a 16th century design, Maison Hamot

19th century stamped velvet produced by impressing a design into the pile with a steel tool.

16th century Spanish silk velvet fabric with applied appliqué design

These velvets are prized today by both collectors and museums because they’re no longer produced due to the fact they’re extremely labor intensive to make and the cost to produce them is astronomical. I bet you didn't realize there were so many different types of velvets produced? Busy little worms huh? I’ll tell you the truth here I keep more then I sell of these lovelies since I can’t help myself. They cost a bloody fortune but if you see anything you like and want just ask but be willing to give up an arm, leg and your first born for it. I hope you’ve enjoyed our little trip through the ages of silk velvets.


Trouvais said...

Well...I'm just liking you more and more!! 1600!!!!Just amazing that they are in such great condition. Are all your beauties wrapped in acid free paper and tucked into a dark closet? Wonderful collection, thanks for the show and tell. Trish

Acquired Objects said...

Yep, I store things well and I work from an environmentally controlled studio and keep my personal collection in here as well. If you’re ever on the east coast pop on by and have a peek!

Haven and Home said...

All of these get me going!

Anonymous said...

Debra- Thank you for a lovely lesson in antique french and italian textile. You have a beautiful collection of textile and pillows. My favorite one is the 17th century Italian raspberry/red silk damask #TX16SE9 ... absolutely beautiful!
Thank you

Olde World Pillows said...

Thank you so much Debra for the lesson in velvets. You are always a fountain of useful information and stunning eye candy. Did I mention I love your blog!!

Greet Lefèvre said...

Love love love all these velvets! Oh my goodness! I want to come to visit you!!! To see them in real!! Stunning! This is a great post and I am so glad I found your beautiful blog!!
And thank you so much for stopping by today and for leaving me your nice comment!!
PS I will add your blog on my bloglist!

French-Kissed said...

Thanks for giving us a look at these fascinating textiles. I have always been drawn to silk velvets and how I envy your wonderful collection. I am looking forward to learning so much from you.


A Perfect Gray said...

absolutely beautiful. loved this post... I can just imagine the feel of these beautiful things...

Bohemian said...

I'm so glad I found your link at Vanna's Blog! I ADORE Antique and Vintage textiles... I'm a Fabric Artist and use at least some pieces in every creation. My best luck of acquiring them has alas had to come directly from Europe... slim pickin's here in the States for the good stuff at a decent price. Your collections are MAGNIFICENT! *major swoonfest going on* Thanks for the education on the various Velvets... Velvet is my fav fabric of all!

Dawn... The Bohemian

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