Fragment of Silk Velvet
Early 16th century
White silk satin weave with polychrome cut voided silk satin velvet
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herman Finkelstein, 1978
Early 16th centuryThe Renaissance Connection
Known as the king of fabrics during the 15th century, velvet was worn by nobility and persons of great importance. In Renaissance paintings, tapestries and, frescoes Saints,
the powerful, and kings are easily identified as they are adorned in velvet much like the fragment seen here dating from the mid 16th century. The presence of this
luxurious fabric not only indicated the wealth and status of the person wearing it, but it also created a significant amount of wealth and power for those who manufactured
As the century progressed production was increased to meet the demand for even more lavish velvets and gold fabrics sought out by the wealthy. Manufacturing towns in Italy,
which became renowned for producing beautiful, high quality silk velvets, responded with greater experimentation and new techniques that increased the value of the
In an effort to try and out do one another and to further demonstrate their wealth, fashion conscious Italians increased the size and complexity of their clothing resulting in
exaggerated styles for both men and women. While wardrobe's grew to include greater numbers of clothing, the outfits increasingly featured forms that hindered movement.
Today, velvet continues to be used in the production of clothing and in home decoration. It is widely available in many styles with the quality and complexity of the
patterns and motifs determining the cost of this lush fabric making it affordable to more than just the wealthy and powerful.