Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Heralding Petit Point

Antique malls are akin to nature walks, libraries and museums in my book.  

The panoply of objects that owners once treasured and then discarded is a continuous source of amusement and interest to me. You never know what you will find.

When Jim and I were visiting Dad, we had the pleasure of discovering an absolutely wonderful treasure trove, the Shirley Street Antique Mall in Naples, FL.   It's home to Homer Helter's, the largest military antique mall in Florida...a fact that becomes apparent when you walk through the back door and are greeted by a table full of veterans and friends who gather there on a daily basis.  They were a welcoming band of brothers and offered a chair, a cup of coffee and fellowship to my Dad while Jim and I went treasure hunting.

It didn't take long before I spotted this 6 inch square example of petit point embroidery...


It is petit point stitched with silk floss on silk gauze at 44 stitches to the inch. 

The strange thing about this piece was that I had seen the exact same fragment a couple days before at another Antique Mall in Naples but didn't buy it because it was three times as much.  It was also dirtier and much more faded than this one.

I took that as a sign from the universe.  I mean, what's the likelihood that you see two pieces that are so distinct within one week of each other?  It was meant to come home with me.

Since being back, I've scoured the internet trying to find any information that might unlock the secret of its progeny or history.

Its original frame seemed to be from the 1940s.  When I took the piece out of the frame, I was sad to see that the fragment had been glued to a cardboard backing.

The edges are frayed and the piece does appear to be a fragment.



The image seems to be heraldic in nature, with a lion salient on the left and a unicorn on the right both holding banner poles in front of a tournament tent.  Through a parting in the tent curtain, there's a red shield emblazoned with a lion rampant and a plumed helm and visor...


The lion and the unicorn in this configuration bring to mind the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.  

There are quite a number of crests in the piece. In addition to the main red crest in the bottom center, there are four in the corners and two more resting against each other atop the opening in the tent.


There are two banners suspended from the flag poles...


And the date "1526" below the flag on the left...


If any of you can help me understand a bit more about the history of this piece, I would be very grateful.  Jim tends to think it's merely a pretty design created in a heraldic style.  Perhaps he's right.  That might explain why I saw another similar one in the same town.  Of course, they woman who sold it to me could have had a pair and a stall in the other antique mall we visited...but I didn't think to ask that at the time.

All in all, it's just lovely.  The background bounty of bright flowers stitched in soft, romantic colors, brings to mind jousting, knights, and the favors of noble ladies.  It's all very romantic indeed.  I wish I knew more.

Happy Heralding!

6 comments:

Rachel said...

Try contacting the College of Heralds, in London. There is probably someone there who would have an instant "feel" for whether the combination of shields and the devices on them meant something or not. The colours are much softer than in "proper" heraldry, but that is a reasonable alteration for the purpose of an interior design - which would also explain the existence of a pair.
The only badge which instantly suggests anything to me is the Swan, which was the family badge of Bohun family in, I think, the thirteenth or fourteenth century - a little early for the date on the panel...

Createology said...

I am sad to say I have no helpful information on this beautiful piece of stitchery. Thankfully you are giving it a new home.

Padparadscha said...

Isn't it a salamander on the right side banner ? It would then be the badge of Fran├žois 1er, king of France.

Margaret said...

I just searched for "1526" and found a couple of references in Wikipedia. One is for the year itself, and the other is "1526 in literature..." Lots of activity that year! Battles and such. First publications of the New Testament in English and Swedish, and the first complete Dutch translation of the Bible. An important book by Martin Luther...that sort of thing. Maybe those dates will help?

Amanda said...

I was trying to come up with a Spanish/Florida connection, but the only Spanish Colonial thing that happened that year was a failed attempt at a colony in Georgia - hardly a thing to celebrate! So I sent this one over to a pair of friends, one of whom is a historian, the other a history buff specializing in the Middle Ages. The heraldry, while not really accurate, does have a very English feel. The best they could come up with is that 1526 is the year Henry VIII married Ann Boleyn. They're wondering if it might not be worn and sun-damaged piece from the 1970s, when PBS was originally running "Six Wives of Henry VIII." Or perhaps a souvenir of somebody's trip to England?

Estella Star of the East said...

The 70's seems right to me. Burda published then a petit point version of the Lady with the Unicorn and other heraldic-mythic tapestries, I still have them somewhere, but was never up to the task.
They were also available as kit. That could easily explain the existence of more of the same

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