Sunday 25 August 2013

The Holy Roman Emperor's Bonnet * Château d'Écouen Renaissance Museum

Until sold at auction in 1836, this embroidered linen bonnet was kept in the Treasury of the Cathedral of Basle and was accompanied by a signed parchment stating that it belonged to Charles V Emperor. The crown is formed of 4 equal triangles stitched together. One triangle has a Maltese Cross, another the Holy Roman Empire's double-headed eagle surmounted by a crown centred upon an open-work heart which resembles Schwalm work. The bonnet band is composed of 5 semi-circles.
The first is decorated with a flowering three branched motif, surrounded by birds and two eagles. The second has a large bird and rabbits. The third is embroidered with a woman seated in a boat, wearing a pointed hat. She holds a weathervane in one hand and in the other a bird. It is thought that this might be an allegory of Fortune tossed about by the waves. The fourth door semi-circle is devoted to a griffon and the Paschal Lamb and the fifth has the cross of Malta, animals and stylized birds. The technique used is buratto mounted on linen canvas. The semi-circles are bordered with Venetian point needle-lace. The first pattern books for buratto appear in Venice in 1527and so help to date this piece which is thought to be around 1550 ) to the dating of this piece. It is thought that the bonnet was made in Spain. The small diameter of the bonnet suggests that is was used as a lining for the Imperial Crown - it would have topped, not covered his head.

There are some 200 pieces of lace in the Château d'Écouen Renaissance Museum, which can be found just north of Paris. This piece is, comme on dit, probably the crowning glory, belonging as it might have done to a ruler whose dominion spanned the greater part of Europe. To visit the museum, click here.

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