Lace Border - inv. 3367 a/b
This border, probably produced in Venice in the last quarter of the sixteenth century, consists of a needle lace insert with the addition, in the nineteenth century, of bobbin lace border tips, also an earlier work. Along with flowers and stylized birds, mermaids appear 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 laces. It also appears in pattern books and in decorative bas-reliefs of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, keeping up 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 it is widely documented in portraits from that 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.