Needle lace, punto in aria, punto di Ragusa, linen
a) H. 22 x W. 22 in. (55.9 x 55.9) b) H. 6 x W. 6 in. (15.2 x 15.2 cm)
The Nuttall Collection, Gift of Mrs. Magdalena Nuttall, 1908
Not on view
Punto in aria—literally, "stitches in the air"—is one of the earliest styles of needle lace, which is itself developed from cutwork of primarily geometric design. When lacemakers transitioned to using a foundation of threads laid out according to a pattern drawn on parchment, they were able to incorporate more fluid lines and curves into their designs. The potential of the technique is well illustrated by this piece, the center of a chalice veil, which depicts a saint, possibly Augustine, holding a bishop’s crozier. The facial features, costume details, and hands are delineated by corded and buttonholed threads.