Heraldic textile with the emblems of two families, 1500–1550
Silk damask; L. 26 in. (66 cm), W. 23 in. (58.4 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1946 (46.156.116)
This splendid piece of silk damask features a pattern of ovoid forms framed by a garland of leaves, with the repeat separated into fields including a large diamond ring emerging from a crown from which hang three pears. This pattern, or ones quite similar, range in date from 1516 to well into the seventeenth century; its popularity raises the interesting question of the heraldry's identification. It is often thought to have been designed for the Medici—the diamond ring being one of their symbols—or another family whose name played on the word pera, or pear, such as the Peruzzi or the Peri. However, its widespread use suggests the motif of the ring must have made it appropriate for many families, maybe within the context of a wedding.