Handkerchief thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery

Handkerchief

1600-1620 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In the 16th century people used plain linen handkerchiefs for the same purposes they do today. Decorated handkerchiefs, however, were often purely fashionable accessories and gifts. This example has cutwork decoration. Cutwork is the earliest form of needle lace. It is based on a woven ground, from which areas have been cut away. The technique developed during the 16th century. Lacemakers cut away increasing areas of fabric to create a geometric grid of threads over which they worked their stitches. This type of advanced cutwork became very fashionable. It reached the height of technical and stylistic perfection around 1615.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Linen, with cutwork decoration
Brief Description
Handkerchief decorated with cutwork, Flanders, 1600-1620
Physical Description
Handkerchief of linen, with a broad border of cutwork decoration. Repeating pattern of lozenge-shaped compartments, outlined by diagonal stems with rosettes at the intersections, and each filled with a geometrical star device; the outer border is of small vandykes.
Dimensions
  • Length: 55cm
  • Width: 53.5cm
Gallery Label
HANDKERCHIEF 1600-1620 Handkerchiefs were ornamental rather than practical, as illustrated in the portrait alongside, showing Anne Cecil, later Countess of Stamford. This example is decorated with cutwork, the earliest form of needle lace. The best quality linens came from Flanders and some of the finest whitework and lace were made there. Linen decorated with cutwork Flanders (Belgium) Museum no. 484-1903(2008)
Object history
Purchased. Registered File number 82095/1903.
Production
Flemish
Subjects depicted
Summary
In the 16th century people used plain linen handkerchiefs for the same purposes they do today. Decorated handkerchiefs, however, were often purely fashionable accessories and gifts. This example has cutwork decoration. Cutwork is the earliest form of needle lace. It is based on a woven ground, from which areas have been cut away. The technique developed during the 16th century. Lacemakers cut away increasing areas of fabric to create a geometric grid of threads over which they worked their stitches. This type of advanced cutwork became very fashionable. It reached the height of technical and stylistic perfection around 1615.
Bibliographic References
  • Levey, Santina M. Lace: A History. London: Victoria & Albert Museum; Leeds: W.S. Maney, 1983, Pl. 48.
  • Browne, Clare. Lace from the Victoria & Albert Museum. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2004, Pl. 5
Collection
Accession Number
484-1903

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record createdOctober 22, 2003
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