In our forthcoming book we have close up images of the remains of iridescent insect wings and feathering stitched into Stuart pictures of the mid 1600s, so one can only begin to comprehend the scintilation of some of these early works in candle light. When I visited the Dennis Severs House in 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, London E1 6B - the former home of a family of Huguenot silk weavers - which is lit only by candles, I was suddenly aware of the importance and effect of manufactured reflective surfaces in the days before electricity. It goes without saying that metal and mirrors sparkled. And glass. Also the glaze on china that shimmered like pearl. The sheen on silk and chintz that was ever changing with each move, each breath... So, why not use nature's own iridescence? Here is an example of beetle-wings embroidered on an organdy dress of the 1860's.
Just imagine how this would have caught the light when you moved and breathed and danced beneath the candles!
It is Lot 158 and was formerly in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum. It measures B 36", W 28", Skirt L 43". Estimate is $600-$800. For sale with Karen Augusta Auctions on 20 March 2011 at St Paul's NY. Click here for more details.