Old Venetian lace has always been considered one of the high points of the textile arts, what with its imaginative design, technical brilliance, and universal appeal to all lands and times. It was the ancestor of most of the important laces that have since been made in Europe, and surviving specimens are the treasured possessions of the great museums of the world. Federico Vinciolo is one of the masters within this art. A leading Venetian designer, he was summoned in France to the court of Henry II, probably by Catherine de Medici, where he had the monopoly on manufacturing lace neck ruffs. In 1587 Vinciolo published a collection of his best patterns and designs, Les singuliers et nouveaux pourtraicts, which went through more than a dozen printings in France and Italy. It remains one of the basic books in the history of lace. For the modern needleworker who wishes to recapture the charm of this antique lace, Vinciolo's book offers 98 plates of fine patterns and designs in various techniques: needlepoint, darned netting, point coupé, counted thread work, and others. These include geometric forms, exuberant treatment of classical motives, Italian and Levantine designs, and mush else that the modern worker, able to pick out a pattern, can re-create. Most of this material is nowhere else available. Vinciolo's designs are also of interest to the graphic artist who wishes delicate yet forceful textile images.
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