Length of velvet
late 17th–early 18th century
W. 23 in. (58.4 cm), L. 84 in. (213.4 including turned under selvages)
Purchase, Friends of European Sculpture and Decorative Art Gifts, 1992
Not on view
While Lyons was the undisputed center of the silk-weaving industry during the eighteenth century, Genoa provided much of the high-quality velvet for both furnishings and fashion. A specialty was polychrome-velvet weaving, as in this fabric, which possibly was intended to be used for an elegant wide-skirted mantua, or gown. Although the pattern repeat of stylized and seminaturalistic flowers is relatively small, it appears more complex, as it is rendered with seven different colors, a feat of technical virtuosity. The individual motifs are further modeled by juxtaposing cut and uncut ("ciselé") pile, which reflect light differently. This mutable effect is more dramatic when the fabric is in movement, as one's perception of the colors changes dramatically depending on whether the fabric is vertical or horizontal, flat or draped.
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