Lace of the Month: Reticella – February 2011

The lace for February is a Reticella border with Punto in Aria points, 55″ x 8-1/2″. The 15 large points alternate with 14 smaller ones, and there are three smaller points up the left side. Many such laces retain the original cloth from which the drawnwork was done along one edge – others like this one are cut away. The header is now a plaited bobbinlace.
It has a typical tripartite border with an upper and lower narrow section, the main design is in the center. It appears to be based on oak leaves and acorns, although it is a little hard to interpret.
This is an example of a heavy work, meant to edge some kind of linen. There is a large temptation to label pieces like altar cloth decorations, when it is more likely to have edged a table linen. This piece has numerous areas of raised work, large dots in the ‘leaves’, and raised bars in some crosspiece elements of the design. These raised elements were applied after the main work was done. Often in these laces there are figures worked into the design which can become quite fantastic. Reticella (aka reticello), basically meaning ‘cut cloth’, appears in many pattern books of the the later 16th century. It spread quickly throughout Europe and is popular even today. A piece like this is probably 17th century work.  Attribution is more difficult, with both Italy and Greece laying claim to the heavy, more figural borders with raised work. The issue of attribution is in serious need of research.

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2 Responses to Lace of the Month: Reticella – February 2011

  1. Vickie Green says:

    How lovely, I certainly honor the maker/makers. That’s my question: do you think that the Punto in Aria points would have been made by the same person as the Reticella portion? Thanks for the lovely lace in my “in-box” this morning 🙂

    • lacenews says:

      Thanks for the comment – it is a beautiful piece! The work does seem to be all in the same hand, as far as I can tell. the whole work is remarkably consistent in the primary stitches, and even the raised parts are very similar everywhere. There aren’t amu studies of manufacturers this early. There certainly could have been areas of specialization by different workers, as was common in needlelace.
      Note, I made a mistake in the dates – the early pattern books appear in the 16th century, not 15th. I’m correcting the piece.

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