Italian, Venice

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 506

Eighteenth-century Venetian silk weavers worked hard to retain their reputation, which they had enjoyed since the 1200s. Facing competition from recently established French and English counterparts, they developed a singular style responding to the colorful floral repeats of textiles imported from Iran and India. Used as both dress and furnishing fabrics, these new silks were collectively called “bizarre” upon their debut because of their unexpected elongations and patterning. Distinguished by virtuoso weaving, these works feature precious metalwrapped threads that twinkle with the shifting light of their setting. Their vogue was intense but short-lived, lasting only two decades (1705–25), the last great flowering of Venetian silk manufacture.

Piece, Silk and metal-wrapped thread, Italian, Venice

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