Date: ca. 1700
Culture: Italian, Genoa
Dimensions: L. 123 x W. 20 1/2 inches (312.4 x 52.1 cm)
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1938
Accession Number: 38.182.2
Floral velvets like this one are often referred to as jardinière velvets, using the French word for garden in reference to their bold, symmetrical floral patterns, or Genoa velvets, referring to the city where they were first produced. It is difficult to date this type of velvet precisely, as it was fashionable for formal interiors over a period of many years. The same type of design-large flowers and scrolling leaves symmetrically arranged to cover the entire width of a textile-also appears in monochrome damasks of the period.
Velvet is distinguished from other flat textiles by its pile weave. This texture was created by an extra warp, in addition to the warp necessary for the background of the fabric. The pile warps were passed over small rods to create the loops of the pile. A polychrome velvet required as many extra sets of warps as it had colors in the pile, in this case four colors of velvet pile on a white satin background. Jardinière velvets usually had a combination of cut and uncut loops, giving further texture to the design. In this example, the combination of cut and uncut velvet on a smooth satin surface gives it an especially rich character, as all of the surfaces reflect the light differently.