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Evening cape

Designer Maria Monaci Gallenga Italian

Not on view

Although Gallenga and Fortuny often mimicked the effects of Renaissance velvets with dense metallic brocade, to satisfy a modern sensibility they created textiles that maintained a suppleness impossible to achieve in fabric woven with heavy metal threads. Each developed printing techniques that gave a burnished finish without making the silk velvet so weighty or stiff that its soft hand was disturbed. When Gallenga exhibited at the 1925 International Exposition in Paris, her designs were praised for precisely this quality. Critic Marc Hélys, writing in Le Correspondant, noted the luminous character of her velvets printed in gold: rich without being glaring and retaining all their softness. This helped her creations preserve a modern character, even while directly appropriating historic motifs. In this instance, the pattern is from an Egyptian textile dating from between the seventh and ninth centuries, also depicted in Otto von Falke’s 1913 publication on silk textiles. As Hélys wrote of Gallenga’s fashions, their “antique motifs . . . without denying their glorious origin, speak loud and clear in their language, twentieth-century and Italian.”

Evening cape, Maria Monaci Gallenga (Italian, Rome 1880–1944 Umbria), silk, rayon, metal, Italian

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© 2019 Nicholas Alan Cope