The current text for this piece (revised during my visit based on our discussions) place the piece as late 16th Century Italian. The ground is linen plain weave. As seen in the photos below, it is a relatively rough fabric. The red void work embroidery appears to be four sided stitch which has not been drawn up tightly. The outline of the design is in back or straight stitches. The open work is drawn thread work with the stitching done with either silk or linen thread. The museum's listing sets it as silk, but I lean towards linen because of the difference in the appearance from the red silk, which appears to be made of numerous plies of very fine flat or filament silk, creating a thread slightly thicker than the ground fabric threads. Stitches are worked roughly "over 4."
The filling stitches in the open work bear a strong resemblance to the birds eye filling used in modern Hardanger, although the bars look wrapped rather than woven. For comparison, see this two page guide on the Nordic Needle website.
During my visit the curator and I had a lively discussion regarding this piece as well as the others. I was pleased that some of my input was used to revise and expand the description they originally had. These pieces are now being labeled as having "void-work embroidery."
As I sit to examine my notes and photos, I am developing a list of questions on each piece. A return visit may need to be made for a more complete study of these pieces to be offered.
|A picture of a large portion of the piece|
|Some repair has been done|
|Through the magnifier. Some of the cutwork wrapping has fallen or broken away|