Length of brocaded velvet, 16th century
Spanish or Italian
Silk velvet brocaded with metal–wrapped thread; 87 x 22 1/2 in. (221 x 57.2 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1946 (46.156.120)
Many of the so-called pomegranate velvets of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were designed with floral motifs so large that they covered almost the entire width of the finished textile. This version of the popular design may have been made in Spain, where the skill of the weavers equaled those of the Italian peninsula. This piece also has the characteristic European features of two heights of pile, and a combination of flat metal-thread surfaces and metal-thread loops. The highly stylized floral motifs, with their spadelike shapes, are reminiscent of motifs found on Spanish tiles, and similar textiles are featured in an altar painting in the Cathedral of Seville.
Like many of the lengths of Renaissance velvet that survive today, this is actually composed of many fragments, painstakingly assembled to re-create the original pattern. This was probably done by a dealer in the early twentieth century.