ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History   /  embroidered pannels

  Question of Mr.Robin Halwas -

I introduce myself as a dealer in London. I have for sale in my gallery three associated needlework panels embroidered in silk:
(1.A) 89/91 × 340 cm — (2.B) 89/91 × 218 cm — (3.C) 89/91× 218 cm

After some research, I have concluded that the panels most probably are Roman work of the 1630s or 1640s – or, just possibly, Parisian work of the same period.
I am interested in knowing
- whether anyone has come across figurative panels of similar size, either directly, or in seventeenth-century inventories?
- Can the panels be localised by either materials or technique?
- Can anyone report comparable use of f
aceted glass studs for decorative features such as buttons, rings, and rivets on the armour, and bridles?

Materials and technique
For all three panels, the ground is plain-weave (tabby) linen, on which the design is drawn and shaded with a grey-brown colour wash. The surface is entirely covered with polychrome floss silks in long or short needle-painting stitches; the outlines are worked in split and stem stitches, and details (costume, architecture, etc.) are in laid and couched work, French knots, satin and spaced satin stitches (some stitches are worked slightly differently on panel a, on which padded satin and brick stitches are used, the latter notably on the trees). Additional outlines are of couched metal thread and a little metal strip; for details such as stirrups, sword hilts, and costume features, the metal thread is laid over a cord to give a raised effect; other, larger details are worked with laid metal thread couched in decorative patterns (some areas are padded). Faceted glass studs are used for decorative features such as buttons, rings, rivets on the armour, and bridles.



The panels are relatively clean and still retain a fresh colour although the silks have faded, in particular the bright salmon pink, the reds, purples, sharp greens and yellows, and the dark brown and black. Different dye batches have faded to different shades (as can be seen in the sky of panel B). The embroidery silk has dropped out in many areas (particularly in panel A). Some of the silk is rubbed and there are a few loose metal threads.
Some olive-green and yellow stitches down the left edge of panel A, some orange-brown spots on one horse in panel A and on another horse in panel C, are 19th-century repairs (they were not, however worked through the backing fabric, which was sewn on by machine in the late 19th or early 20th century); otherwise the panels are virtually untouched.




The longest panel features the heraldic insignia of the Guidi di Bagno family and the embroideries probably were commissioned either by Cardinal Giovanni Francesco or his brother Cardinal Nicoḷ Guidi de Bagno, in Rome, in the 1630s or 1640s. Both Giovanni Francesco and Nicoḷ are known to have had a particular regard for textiles.
The left half of the long panel is derived from an engraving by Francesco Villamena after Antonio Tempesta, first published in Rome about 1610, and reissued there in the 1630s and 1640s.

The design source for the right half, showing four horsemen advancing on their strategic objective – a curious round tower situated in the middle of a lake or river – has yet to be identified. The design sources for the other two panels are unknown, and the story narrated in the three embroideries is unrecognised; it could be factual, or literary (as is suggested by the image of the cloud-borne tower), or historical and allegorical elements could be mingling freely.

With thanks in advance for any assistance you are able to provide

Robin Halwas Limited
12 Georgian House
10 Bury Street
St. James’s
London SW1Y 6AA

Telephone: (+44) 0207 930 2542


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