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Furnishing fabric

Furnishing fabric

  • Place of origin:

    Genoa (made)

  • Date:

    1500-1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cut and uncut silk velvet on a ground brocaded with gold thread

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 122, case 1

This is an expensive, high-quality Italian furnishing of the 17th century. When acquired by the Museum from an Italian source, this velvet was thought to have been woven in the 16th century, far closer to the Victorian ideal of late medieval design. Twentieth-century research on the silk industry in Genoa, however, suggests that the velvet was made in that city and at a later date.

At the time of acquisition William Morris (1834-1896) was acting as a referee to the Museum on the acquisition of textiles. This pattern is very similar to a number of his designs made at the time. One pattern in particular, called 'Wandle', is clearly influenced by this textile.

Physical description

Furnishing fabric

Place of Origin

Genoa (made)


1500-1600 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cut and uncut silk velvet on a ground brocaded with gold thread


Length: 163 cm, Width: 53.3 cm

Object history note

Made in Genoa, Italy

Descriptive line

Italian brocaded velvet

Labels and date

British Galleries:
FURNISHING FABRIC and the velvet that inspired it

William Morris's design for a printed cotton was almost certainly inspired by this Italian brocaded velvet. The Museum purchased the velvet in 1883 at a time when Morris was acting as an advisor on textiles and he would certainly have seen it during one of his frequent visits. He has taken the strong diagonal pattern as the basis for his more elaborate pattern of formalised flowers. [27/03/2003]




Textiles and Fashion Collection

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