Saturday, November 21, 2009

Portière with Border in Renaissance Embroidery (1880)

From the October 9, 1880 edition of Harper's Bazaar magazine:

This elegant portière is of rich maroon velvet, with a border worked on réséda cloth in the popular Renaissance [style]. The border is repeated across the bottom of each curtain, and also at the lower edge of the lambrequin, where it is finished by maroon twisted fringe. The border is composed of single squares, embroidered at regular intervals on the cloth foundation, with intervening bars of gold braid. Fig. 2 shows the embroidery for each square. After the design has been transferred to the material, the several design figures are covered with stitches worked in a vertical direction with a single thread of split filling silk, in which one stitch is worked forward, the needle carried over two threads of the material on the wrong side, and then a stitch worked back. After a design figure has been covered with threads in this manner, transverse stitches are worked at intervals of an eighth of an inch, and fastened down with overcast stitches of the same silk, the latter stitches forming alternating rows. For the blossoms, bluish-pink silk in several shades and bronze silk are used, for the intersecting lines, Bordeaux, and for the leaves and stems, olive, sea blue, and brown silks in different shades. The embroidered squares are bounded by double lines of bronze filling silk, caught down with overcast stitches of the same silk split, while the space between the lines is filled with herring-bone stitches of bronze silk. For the vine ornamentation, cream-colored silk is sewn down with overcast stitches of bronze. The strips of gold braid are fastened down with bronze filling silk, caught down with overcast stitches of the same silk split, and this latter silk is also used for the row of herring-bone stitches ornamenting the braid. The joining of the border and the velvet foundation is covered by silk cord of the same shade. The portière is draped by means of cords of maroon silk and wool terminating in tassels, as seen in the illustration.
Curtains and portières with wide, embroidered "Renaissance" borders were often featured in the popular press, sometimes with lambrequins or cornice pieces, sometimes with only the curtains proper. As horizontally banded curtains became fashionable, often the embroidered borders were also used to divide the curtain panels - ideally, the point of division would echo the height of the dado, as seen in the decoration of the Worsham-Rockefeller Bedroom. (Detail here.)


Mark Alden Lukas said...

Have you viewed the drapery archive at the Philadelphia Atheneum?

The Peacock Room said...


No, that isn't an opportunity I've had yet. We did spend a day there examining wallpaper, and will be returning to study more of that collection; perhaps I'll be able to see some of the drapery material on one of those trips.


Ianny said...

Very rich decor..