Gorgeous 17th Century Antique Italian Silk Embroidery Textile, Country of Origin: Italy, Circa Date: 17th Century – The Chinese were the first to discover the secret of silk, going back to Neolithic times, but by the 17th century when this antique embroidery was created, the Chinese no longer had a monopoly on the trade. Italian silk had become a highly-prized commodity, and this breathtaking piece is an excellent example of how the Italians were able to capture a large portion of the global silk trade.
The Italian embroidery uses red, blue, and golden yellow to create a striking contrast. This contrast makes the fine detail of the work stand out. The antique textile was more than likely used as a wall tapestry, table covering, bed covering, or other such use.
Silk has several qualities that make it special. The first is that it can be spun into extremely fine threads that allow for a high level of detail. Secondly, it accepts dyes readily and will keep its brilliant colors for a long time. Silk is incredibly durable, and as this piece demonstrates, it can remain in a pristine state for centuries when cared for properly. This Italian embroidery is in an exceptional state of preservation for its age.
Silk was the cloth of nobility and was reserved for those of high status in society. This is a concept that is relatively uniform across all of Europe. It was reserved for garments of state and religious adornments. Silk embroidery was carried out according to strict standards and only by those who were members of guilds.
The principal silk producing cities in Italy were Florence, Venice, and Lucca. These embroideries are frequently seen in Italian Renaissance paintings. The patterns and colors often resemble those found in rugs imported from the Ottoman Empire. This is an exceptional piece that would be suitable for the private collector or public display. It is a rare find, especially in this condition.