Sacred paraments in the Fucecchio Museum

10:14 22 May in Insights

paramenti_fucecchioAmong the collections in the Fucecchio Museum of Sacred Art, the textile sector is distinguished by its variety and richness, permitting an interesting excursus in the textile manufacturing styles and techniques of the 17th and 18th centuries. Florentine production is represented by various examples. The chasuble in chiseled velvet on a fine cloth interwoven with silver from the Collegiate Church of San Giovanni Battista, again proposes – although with a variant that substitutes a blackberry for a pine cone – the classical 15th century motif of a thistle flower within an ogival stitch-frame, that spread throughout Tuscany with great success during the 16th century. The fortune of such a motif, carried out with different techniques also in the following century, was even taken up again in a 19th century revival.

The brocatelle chasuble and cope with yellow and red floral design motifs were widely diffused in the Florentine area during the second half of the 17h century, while the use of red damask continued during the 17th century and the 18th century, to which century the embroidered taffetas, according to a typically Florentine technique, also belong. Of extreme interest are the Italian-produced fabrics that compare well with the French ones in a series of references and revivals that, in some cases, have left doubts about the actual place of execution. Thanks to the protective economic policy of Minister Colbert, Lyons was the most important center of French textile production, both for the skill of its workers and for the high technology.

Cloth from Lyons very soon invaded the western markets and were imitated everywhere; Venice was one of the most important centers of Italian textile manufacturing. The chasuble, with its ganzi-style chalice veil in lampas, in which the design of luxuriant vegetation is created with gold and silver threads underlined by pastel-colored lace edgings, was certainly made in Venice. The compositional structure of the design recalls textile motifs in vogue between the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th centuries, such as bizarre and dentelles, which were also used in the three-piece set of vestments composed of a chasuble and a frock whose shilled technical workmanship refers to French manufacture. The influence of the bizarre textiles, with its abstract and fantastic motifs, is observed in another set of vestments from the Church of Santa Maria delle Vedute, with great decorative effect, probably of Italian manufacture that is accompanied by chinoiserie motifs diffused in the western world with the import of silk and porcelains by the Indies Company. The taste for chinoiserie is found in the splendid chasuble from the Church of the Vergine della Ferruzza, used for the penitential liturgy, as indicated by the dark background on which there are fantastic motifs of swans, ships, palaces, that is very likely of French manufacture because of the exquisite workmanship.

Another interesting technique that is seen in two chasubles in the Fucecchio Museum is that of point-rentré, invented in the Lyons factories by Jean Revel, the son of a painter in Le Brun’s circle which rapidly spread throughout all of Europe. The chasuble from Santa Maria delle Vedute, probably of Venetian manufacture, is characterized by naturalistic motifs with large leaves and leafy branches with various fruits (figs, pomegranates) on a dark background, while the other one from the Collegiate Church of San Giovanni Battista, in a light-colored secular fabric, is probably of Lyonnais manufacture because of the polychrome fantasy that is joined to a pictorial naturalism accomplished with an extreme rigor, especially in the strawberry cluster motif.

by Rosanna Caterina Proto Pisani

in, Museo di Fucecchio. Guida alla visita del museo e alla scoperta del territorio, a cura di Rosanna Caterina Proto Pisani, Polistampa 2006