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Redwork Panel (detail)

English, ca. 1610

Italian embroideries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries display a sophisticated use of double running stitch, worked here in red silk on a linen ground to create this exceptional cutwork panel. Within an arrangement of fortyeight squares, individual motifs repeat randomly; additionally, a narrow column on one side contains complete motifs embroidered to fit the reduced space. Most prominent among the design is the rare use of a female head placed among the stylized birds, cupids, floral urns, stags, and other animals typically seen in embroideries of this period. With the portraiture, the simple outlining on the natural linen foundation is used to great effect to capture the profile of a stylish woman enveloped in her ruff.

Redwork embroidery appears in seventeenth-century coverlets, workbags and borders but rarely in the openwork form seen here. Throughout the piece, the cut edges are outlined in yellow silk providing a subtle addition of color to the distinctive red palette. Smaller squares, appearing at the interstices of the patterns, are filled in with a dotted floral pattern also worked in yellow. Only three other examples of redwork in this cutwork style are known: one is illustrated in Naalden Werken Wonderen, Museum Willet Holthuysen, Amsterdam, plate 88, and two are in private collections. Looped buttonholes on the panel’s side suggest that it may have been used as a pillow cover.

Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Emma-Henriette Schiff von Suvero; deaccessioned from the Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Austria, in 2003.

16” H x 17” W

Redwork Panel
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