Date: third quarter 17th century
Medium: Needle lace
Dimensions: L. 120 1/2 x W. 8 inches
306.1 x 20.3 cm
Credit Line: The Mabel Metcalf Fahnestock Collection, the gift of Ruth Fahnestock Schermerhorn and Faith Fahnestock, 1933
Accession Number: 33.90.35
Seventeenth-century lace has a voluminous character—rather than the light and airy form of later periods—reflecting an era when luxury was equated with grandeur. Here, a careful balance is achieved between the solid forms of the formalized leaves and flowers and the voids in between. The sculptural relief of this type of lace appealed to artists working in other media: Baroque lace appears in the work of the English sculptor of wood, Grinling Gibbons, as well as in the marble sculpture of Bernini.
Lace was used in both secular and religious dress and this flounce could have been used in a number of ways. Collars of this type were worn by both men and women, and were especially popular from about 1660 to 1690, but it could also have adorned a fine chemise or petticoat, or a priest's vestment. Needle lace continued to be used in ecclesiastical dress well into the eighteenth century, long after it went out of use in fashionable dress. Lace of this type was made in several sizes—the boldest designs on the largest scale being known as gros point. Smaller-scale designs were called rose point and point de neige.