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Lace in History

Lace in History

“They wore their mills and their lands on their shoulders…”

Of all the manifestations of inventive genius, it was lace alone that was able to rise to the rank of grand industry that mobilized thousands of workers and merchants, arousing rivalry between nations, attracting the attention of economists and ministers, even disrupting the balance of state finance in certain countries, and contributing to the wealth of some entrepreneurs and the ruin of others who, thirsting for luxury “wore their mills and their lands on their shoulders.” Adulated, criticized, copied, faked, bartered, torn apart by war, resuscitated by peace, lace has survived for three centuries with fragile confidence whose secret is known to it alone.

Marie Risselin-Steenebrugen

Curator, Musées Royaux d’Artet d’Histoire, Brussels

Rembrandt van Rijn: Portrait of Alessandro Farnese (1545-1592), Duke of Parma, Governor of the Low Countries. Musées Royaux des Beux-Arts, Brussels


Martin Van Meytens. Portrait of the Emperor Francis I of Austria. 1740. Kunsthistorischen Museum, Vienna


Lace in history. Braun Spitzen.
Du Pavillion. Portrait of Madame Dobrée. Musée Dobrée, Nantes


Laces in history. Braun Spitzen.
Francois Pourbus the Younger. Portrait of Marie de‘ Medici. 1611. Pitti Palace, Florence.

The Queen ist wearing a cutwork ruff and cuffs, on which appear her initials and those of her husband, Henry IV.

Historical lace. Braun Spitzen.
Louis Ellé the Younger. Portrai of Henry II of Lorraine. 1631. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rheims
Historical Laces. Braun Spitzen
Portrait of the Comte de Toulouse in the Costume of a Novice of the Order of the Holy Spirit. Musée Condé, Chantilly