Textiles and Wealth in 14th-century Florence. Wool, silk, paintings

Velvet with blossoming branch and bird motifs, late 14th century, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

On at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence is the exhibition Tessuto e Ricchezza a Firenze nel Trecento. Lana, Seta, Pittura. The intent of curator Cecilie Hollberg is to illustrate the importance of textiles as an art form in Florence during the 1300s.

Velvet cope, brocaded silk and gold filé, first quarter 15th century, Museo Nazionale del Margello, Florence

On display are rare and valuable examples of medieval fabrics and paintings which are viewed from an economic perspective, as well as for the refined knowledge of textiles and fashions of the time their creators had in conceiving artistic clothing for the society.

Glazed ceramic tile from central Persia, early 14th century, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

Arranged chronologically, the exhibition examines the development of the fabrics starting with the Mediterranean Geometries tied to the Muslim world. Following are the small plant and animal motifs of the Luxury of Mongolian Asia, the Chinese Winged Creatures, the imaginative designs of Pictorial Inventions, the garments of Forbidden Luxury, closing with Silk Velvets.

Woollen child's dress, Greenland, mid 14th-century, National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen

Among the most representative works is a charming small wool dress on loan from the National Museum of Copenhagen made in the mid-fourteenth century for a child and discovered by archaeologists in Greenland; the Baptism of Christ by Giovanni Baronzio, from the National Gallery in Washington; a fragment of fabric with phoenixes and vine leaves from the Prato Museo del Tessuto; the Pourpoint of Charles de Blois, a silk and gold doublet from the Musée des Tissus in Lyon, which according to tradition was worn by Charles de Châtillon, Count of Blois, when he was killed during the Hundred Years War.

Coronation of the Virgin and Four Angels, Gherardo di Jacopo, aka Starnina, Galleria Nazionale di Parma

Among the most important paintings on display are the Coronation of the Virgin and Four Angels by Gherardo di Jacopo, called Starnina, from the Galleria Nazionale di Parma and the great Crucifix of the late 1200s that belongs to the Galleria dell’Accademia with the refined decorative motif of the central panel testifying the richness of the oldest Islamic fabrics found in some fabrics in Spain in the middle of the 1300s and which has been  restored for the occasion. The exhibition closes with the sumptuous cope from the Museo Nazionale del Bargello documenting the splendour reached by Florence during the 1400s in the field of silk and velvets.

Charles de Bois' Pourpoint, 1364 c., Musée des Tissus, Lyon

On until March 18th, the exhibition is on from Tuesday to Sunday from 8.15 am to 6.50 pm. Full ticket costs 12.50 Euros.

Fabric with rosette pattern, late 14th century, Museo del Tessuto, Prato

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