Polychrome velvet with a variation on a Medici emblem

Date: late 15th century

Culture: Italian, probably Florence

Medium: Woven silk and metal-wrapped thread

Dimensions: Overall: 31 x 21 in. (78.7 x 53.3cm); Framed: 37 5/8 x 28 3/8 in. (95.6 x 72.1 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Velvets

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1946

Accession Number: 46.156.118


This piece of cut, voided velvet bears a repeating pattern of six-petalled flowers in crimson, green, and light blue silk and metal threads. In the center of the largest floral element, the seven red balls, or palle, of the Medici family are highlighted against a background of brocaded gold thread; dynastic symbolism is integral to the fabric. Textiles were among the most significant materials associated with marriage celebrations, and the heraldic devices that could be included on costly fabrics worn during them allowed ruling families to assert their preeminence.

Pieces of this fabric are found in the Bargello, Florence; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Museo del Tessuto, Prato.