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Tea gown

Designer Maria Monaci Gallenga Italian

Not on view

Gallenga developed her own technique for metallic printing on velvet using wood blocks. These were produced for her quickly and at little cost by cutting her designs from thin wood blanks that were then glued to sturdier support blocks. To execute the printing, an adhesive film was applied to the blocks, which were then pressed onto the textile to replicate the pattern in adhesive. Powdered metallic pigments were brushed onto the treated areas, which allowed colors to be subtly blended into one another. In this tea gown, whose form imitates that of a medieval gown with hanging sleeves, transitions from silver to gold are made throughout the print, a pattern of birds and hounds set within pointed ovals resembling Gothic tracery. Variations in the tone of the metallic pigments were achieved by adjusting their composition, which typically included copper and zinc. Changing the ratio of these metals produced shades ranging from silver to gold, copper, and bronze.

Tea gown, Maria Monaci Gallenga (Italian, Rome 1880–1944 Umbria), silk, glass, Italian

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© 2019 Nicholas Alan Cope