ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History / symposiums



(Florence, Italy  March 2016)

The Davanzati Palace also   known as The Museum of the Florentine Renaissance Home was struck by a disastrous storm in September 2014. The catastrophe destroyed especially the museum area holding the lace and textiles and pertinent paintings. 

And now, finally, the rooms have been reopened and the lace and samplers again are on view after attentive cleaning and restoration by Beyer & Perrone da Zara  and Tela di Penelope.

The lace display originatedl there in 1981 due to the then-director Maria Fossi Todorow who grew up in the Anglo-american colony of Florence. 

Edith Bronson Rucellai was her grandmother who had  collected bits of  lace in scrap books. In fact, many members of the original Needle and Bobbin Club of New York associated with the Metropolitan Museum were also part of this world.


Elza Ransonnet Villez (self portrait) 1878 (Florence, Uffizi Gallery)


Baby bonnet, pink satin ribbons, Florence,
early 20th century

Monogrammed handkerchief with Belgian pillow lace, Florentine manufacure, early 20th century

  On the Grand tour young ladies came to Florence to have their embroidered trousseaux made: personal items such as dozens of monogrammed  handkerchiefs, lacy peignoirs, nightgowns and underwear.  But also tablecloths and napkins, table runners and curtains; christening robes and caps.  These then were handed down for generations.

These fragile gossamer silks and cambric linens became heirlooms.

The items were designed and executed principally by women – either working in small workshops on consignments from fashionable stores or laboratories run by convent nuns.  Some of these female cooperatives and convent embroidery schools still exist.

Now many of these delicate mementos have finished as donations or sales to museum collections.  Much of the lace and embroidered linens reached the Davanzati Palace Museum directly from the family owners. These objects have lived. And some even have poignant stories connected to them.  The ladies from a Henry James novel or an heirless family committed these precious bits of lace and embroidery to museum care.  So thus a private life becomes History.  That’s what museums are for.

ps In another short note I shall discuss the origin of the sampler collection in the Davanzati Palace Museum

Text sent by:
Dott. Rosalia Bonito Fanelli
Textile Historian
Piazza del Duomo 7
50122 Firenze, Italy
tel/fax 39-055-213798


home content Last revised 19 March 2016