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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Books of Thread: Merletti in Early Modern Venice

  • Author(s): Hutchingame, Laura Mary
  • Advisor(s): Wilson, Bronwen
  • et al.
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Focusing on Cesare Vecellio’s Gioiello della corona per le nobili et virtuose donne, published in Venice in 1625, my thesis investigates merletti, printed pattern books, and ways in which lace and clothing were intertwined. The 1625 edition of Gioiello della corona is indicative of a significant historical moment: it follows the efflorescence of merletti and costume book publications at the end of the Cinquecento, and is contemporaneous with the expansion of monastic lacemaking in Venice. Because Vecellio was a printmaker known for his depictions of costumes, many of which he would have observed firsthand in Venice, his merletto is an exemplary case study. My thesis proposes that Venetian pattern books, which were a staple of the city’s publishing and textile markets, accentuate characteristics shared not only by print and lace, but also forms in the Venetian visual environment. In analyzing Vecellio’s merletto designs and interactions between the line and processes of making lace, I suggest that the centrality of the thread responds to, and creates, associations with some of the city’s distinctive spatial forms. The thesis probes this idea in merletti in terms of material processes, architectural character, and liminality.

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This item is under embargo until August 21, 2021.