Saturday, 19 June 2010

The Embroiderer's Art - 16th Century Netherlands

At Bonham's auction on 7 July there is a magnificent portrait of a 16th century Netherlandish lady who has the most astonishingly rendered Renaissance needlework about her neck. Look first at the simple, plain black button-hole or blanket stitch around the turnover of her collar to which is applied gold braid. Follow this down and admire the Italianate strapwork and stylized floral motifs in gold, outlined to such great effect in black again. For me the real surprise of the piece is the inside of her overdress. At a distance it appears like blackwork, but zoom in close and you can see that it is drawn-thread fine linen infilled with needle-lace stars and florets. Just look at the incredibly fine edging with the slightest whisper of a fringe. And before you go, admire the dual rows of pulled-work between each of the needle-lace rows.

And here you can see the full portrait. It is lot 3 and carries an estimate of £5,000-£7,000.

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  1. oh my wouldn't it be such fun to wear a surprise like that under your shirt or over coat. a little peek and you see such incredible work.

  2. WOW!!!

    I have finished my year from hell (the closing of my beloved school) and am slowly getting back to the things I love and which make me happy- like reading this blog.

    I will have to come back later and explore all that I have missed in the last months- it looks like there is so much new here to enjoy.

    I am also looking forward, VERY happily, to having the time to again pick up a needle and get back to my Beatrix Potter, after which there are so many wonderful things here to stitch.

    Thank you for such a wonderful and inspirational site to visit!

  3. Oh, isn't she lovely? Her drawn threadwork collar looks a lot like the one that was in the auction you featured not too far back. Who knows what ribbon and ruching and embroidery are on her chemise? Or what gossip and tender conferences passed among the young ladies as they were sewing it all?

  4. How wonderful to put on such a garment and be in the height of sure beats the T-shirt rack at Walmart!

  5. Just found this post. This isn't drawn threadwork, its Reticella Needlelace. I am currently working on a reproduction of it which hopefully will be worn this June/July at Kentwell Hall by a friend of mine.

    I spent hours working from the zoomed image which I pulled from the Bonhams website (PS the link is now broken) and have pretty much graphed up the pattern.

    I am working on a 45 count thread linen and found that I definitely require a magnifying glass and bright light to see those threads!

    Later in the year, I will have an article on the making of the needlelace in Your Wardrobe Unlock'd sister online magazine History Unstitched. It won't be a master class but will show what I did to create it and a history of needlelace in the 16th century.