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Orphrey

Orphrey

  • Place of origin:

    Florence (made)

  • Date:

    late 15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    di Giovanni, Bartolomeo (designed)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Woven silk and metal

  • Museum number:

    1024-1900

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In 14th and 15th-century Italy, the textile industry produced many silks with decorative patterns or figurative designs, such as this woven band. They were used as the borders on ecclesiastical vestments. The design process required knowledge of the loom. While some painters, such as the now famous Sandro Botticelli, made designs for woven textiles, their designwork was converted into a form suitable for weaving either by weavers or by specialist designers who worked under contract to silk firms and were affiliated with the silk weaving guilds.

The design for this particular band is attributed to Bartolomeo di Giovanni who was active as a painter between 1483 and 1511 in Florence. It is not possible to be sure that he was the author, as the medium of silk weaving would have distorted his original design.

Physical description

Part of woven orphrey band, brocatelle in red silk and metal with a single pattern repeat. The image shows the Virgin giving her girdle to St Thomas.

Place of Origin

Florence (made)

Date

late 15th century (made)

Artist/maker

di Giovanni, Bartolomeo (designed)

Materials and Techniques

Woven silk and metal

Dimensions

Length: 85.4 cm, Width: 23 cm inside the selvedges, Length: 48.5 cm pattern repeat, Width: 1.8 cm selvedge

Historical context note

The attribution on this design to Bartolomeo di Giovanni is not secure. According to Lisa Monnas, it is one of a group of Florentine orphrey bands woven in brocatelle in imitation of embroidery with figurative, religious subjects. They are variously attributed to Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494), Barolomeo di Giovanni (active 1483-1511), Sandro Botticelli, Raffaellino del Garbo, and Antonio del Pollaiuolo though there is no sound docuumentary evidence for such atribution. It is not possible to make adequate stylistic comparisons because the medium of silk weaving distorts the original design. The distinctive selvedge type, found on this and other Florentine borders, recurs on a group of velvets and brocatelles from the late 15th to the mid 16th-centuries - narrow central band of pink and yellow in diagonal stripes, flanked by two white stripes.

Descriptive line

part, brocatelle, 1450-99, Italian (Florence); Assumption and Coronation of Virgin, Virgin giving her girdle to St Thomas; red gold; Bartolomeo di Giovanni

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Lisa Monnas, Merchants, Princes and Painters. Silk Fabrics in Italian and Northern Paintings 1300-1500. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008, p. 62, figs. 55 & 56 (detail of selvedge).

Production Note

Attribution: Lisa Monnas, 2007

Materials

Silk; Linen; Gold

Techniques

Weaving

Categories

Textiles; Ecclesiastical textiles

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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