Lace Border - inv. 3367 a/b

Venice, late 16th century

Lace Border
embroidered linen  
14 x 110 cm
entry 1931 post  
Inv. 3367a 3367b

Lace Room

In this border, to a needle lace insert  in the nineteenth century were added bobbin lace border tips, also an earlier work. Together with flowers and stylized birds, there appear mermaids  with two tails, on which tiny scales are visible.  A symbol of seduction, the siren is one of the commonest devices in sixteenth-century embroidery and lace. It also appears in pattern books and in decorative bas-reliefs of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, in keeping with a tradition that goes all the way back to Romanesque sculpture.
The eyes of the sirens and birds are black glass beads. The border tips reflect those found in the famous pattern book for bobbin lace titled “Le Pompe” (published in Venice in 1557-1560), and were used for decorating necks and cuffs, as is widely documented in portraits from the period. In the nineteenth century this border was used  in the Poldi Pezzoli home to cover the arms of the sofa in the Black Room.