Tuesday 16 July 2013

Textile History at The Museo Storico della Tappezzeria *Villa Spada * Bologna

From the old centre of Bologna it is an easy bus ride to the Villa Spada which lies just beyond the town walls. There you will enjoy a rare treat. An entire museum devoted to textiles and possibly all to yourself. The exhibitions are exquisite, if a little eccentrically, though beautifully displayed. Such treasures - the piece above is a hand embroidered table-runner with urns of carnations and lilies. Dated - guess.... Would you believe this piece was from the end of the 7th or beginning of the 8th century?

This piece above is lampas on a red silk ground brocaded with gold and dates from the 1200s.

I was particulary attracted to the se woven items that are sprinkled with small floral repeats - the motifs reminded me of those in early embroidery pattern books.

The one above and below are both 16th century and you can perhaps imagine how an embroidress, having seen one of these woven cloths, might think to herself that with some thread and a needle she could make something aspirational, resembling these pieces. I am sure we have all thought when we have seen an extraordinarily expensive designer item of clothing - I could cheat that with something that looks just as good!

The week we were in Bologna we read of the death of the designer Ottavio Missoni who created such wonderful garments based on flame-stitch or Bargello embroideries. Looking at this piece, then, was particularly poignant as it reminded me so much of his designs.

This piece was stitched by hand in silk - but there is not date given for it. Leave the Via Spada and look across the road for the beginning of the colonnades that take you up 3.5 metres all the way to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca on a hill overlooking the city. The walk is covered all the way with these wonderful portici. St Luke was reputed to have sketched the face of the Virgin Mary - and it is this image that is said to be in the Sanctuary. The image is brought out and taken down to the town once a year during a splendid festival.


  1. OH. MY. GOSH. I just discovered your wonderful blog. I think I died and went to heaven ;)

  2. Such beautiful work. Thanks for sharing

  3. Spada is the name of the wealthy family that hid their treasure for Edmund Dantes to find in The count of Montecristo ;)
    I'll pin this and get to it, that's for sure.
    thank you for sharing,