Antique Lace Portraits

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Of all my textile treasures, these lace portraits are among my very favorites.  To be perfectly honest, I know absolutely nothing about how they were created. Do you know?  I would really appreciate any information you could share.


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The background/field surrounding the busts appears to be a sort of tatting or crochet.   The fill pattern in parts of  each figure remind me of Battenburg techniques.  But for all I know, there may be an obscure, obsolete needleart for creating such stitched images.  I can say with certainty that they were made by hand.


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The placement of the intricate stitch patterns create a portrait so clear that you might recognize this regal personage or his ancestors if you had bumped into them at the latest royal wedding.

It seems likely that they represent some very important historical figures.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of English history.  From what I’ve read and the portraits I have seen, the textile figures appear to be from the Tudor era.  I think it’s okay to speculate so I think they could be Queen Mary (1516-58) and her Spanish husband, Phillip II.


Mary and her husband Felipe of Spain Oil on canvas English School, 17th century National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

He was said to be very handsome and, to me, he looks the part of a dandy, Latin lover.  Note: If anyone thinks this guy is handsome, you should see my husband!

The most complimentary description of Queen Mary said she was clean and plain.  This prim lady just seems grim, but if she knew what Phillip was doing with the ladies at court, Mary had good reason to look grumpy.


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Is there a royal rule against smiling?

These portraits hang in the little sitting room that is part of a guest suite in our circa 1926 home.

Almost 20 years ago, they were purchased at an estate sale, pinned to a sheet of cardboard.  If any interest is expressed, I’ll write a post about that once-in-a-lifetime textile shopping spree.   And I did–here is the link.  Occasionally, I still dream about it!

When I brought Phillip/Felipe and Mary home, I intended to get them framed, but one thing and then another got in the way.  About 5 years later, my darling, thoughtful daughter teamed up with her father to get the portraits framed for my birthday.  Needless to say, I was just thrilled to be able to hang them and gaze daily at the exquisitely portrayed royal couple.

Had I known this birthday gift plan was in the offing, I would have blocked the lace to their intended shape.  But the poor framer was very intimidated by their apparent age,  uniqueness, and perceived fragility.  So he just placed them on the acid-free stock as best he could.

I hope spring is creeping into your lives and gardens.  This past week we had all three grandchildren for some time and their youth reminds me of the beautiful spring we are enjoying.

Now I am busy smocking Laurel’s Easter dress.  But my Quattro is calling me to come play!  What are you stitching?

This is my post for Faded Charm’s White Wednesday.  There are beautiful things there.  Check it out!

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