Thursday, April 14, 2016

Rare Needle Lace Patterns

I'm so excited to tell you about a booklet that has just come out. It is a facsimile reprint of a rare 16th century needle lace pattern book currently held in the public library of Forlì, Italy.

Besides 44 plates of needle lace patterns, there is also the story describing the rediscovery of this particular copy and its significance as well as detailed information on the very few other surviving copies. There is some controversy as to the true author of the patterns and the editor of this reprint, Bianca Rosa Bellomo, lays out all the known facts and hypotheses - it is a fascinating read. There are few words about the structure of the designs and then some highlights as to the subject matter of the patterns themselves with respect to the heraldry and symbolism represented. All text is accompanied by precise footnotes and there is a valuable and detailed bibliography for further study.

The first plate is a design incorporating the coats of arms of the Gonzaga and Este families as the original pattern book was dedicated to Margherita Gonzaga d'Este (1564-1618) the Duchess of Ferrara at the time.

Margherita Gonzaga d'Este. Photo from Wikipedia.

The imperial eagles belong to the Este coat of arms; the siren is an antique symbol to exalt the gifts of song or to indicate an important woman; at the top there is an Este eagle and at the sides, lions rampant are resting on the Gonzaga crown.

The booklet is 60 pages and the text is in Italian and English. It can be purchased direct from the publisher, check out their website, they take PayPal. As Lacis in Berkeley, California is their North American distributor, you can contact them to request a copy. Remember that the book was just released in Italy so it may be a little while before it is available on this side of the ocean.