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Antique Textiles

Pair of needlework valances with passementerie
French, first quarter of the 18th century
Each 13 x 73.5 in. (33 x 186.7 cm)

High-end textiles were integral components of elite eighteenth-century French interiors. Often ordered en suite by the tapissier, or upholsterer, who was responsible for planning the decorative scheme of an interior, furnishing textiles for beds, seating furniture, and window draperies unified public and private spaces. Although a wide variety of woven and embroidered textiles were used, petit point, or canvas work embroidery, was both efficient to produce and durable. The robust design of these wool needlepoint valances—likely used at a window—would have made a strong statement across the top of a window in combination with matching curtains. Stylistically, the brightly colored, large-scale florals relate to woven silks of the 1730s and 1740s, and the intensity of the vivid shades of red, pink, rust, orange, yellow, and green attests to the well-documented taste for strong colors for furnishings. The valances’ scalloped lower edges are finished with an exuberant flourish of crimson silk tasseled fringe, with a plush crimson cord at each side.

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