HNW - Embroidering Damask

Carolyn Kayta Barrows kayta at
Tue Jun 8 09:21:25 PDT 1999

There is also one detail of a portrait by Bronzino of Eleanor
>of Toledo (1525-26) wearing a brocaded velvet which has been embellished by
>couching metal cords around the outlines, but I don't think this is the sort
>of intense embroidery you had in mind.  

I have just caught back up to this point in the list, so this may be out of

I have just seen a photo of the piece of brocade Bronzino used as a model
when he painted the Eleanor of Toledo dress.  The person who took the
photo, who saw the piece of cloth with her own eyes, said it was all woven.
 She's quite an embroiderer herself, so I think she would have known
embroidery when she saw it.  It happened to be on display, along with the
Medici burial clothes in Janet Arnold, in the Medici chapel in Florence
when she was there.  It has both gold and silver in it, plus silk pile and
silk ground.

Apparently this cloth was something Bronzino had lying around, so he
painted several women in dresses looking like they were made of it.  This
lady showed us a few slides of other Bronzino portraits featuring the same
cloth.  The dress doesn't show up in Eleanor of Toledo's inventories from
after she died, and other evidence corroborates that there never was such a
dress except in the painting.  (My favourite example of this sort of
painter trick is the bodice in yellow with black banding which shows up in
at least six different Vermeer paintings.  Obvoiusly a studio prop.)

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