Collection Connection: Velvet with Pomegranate Pattern Showcased at Royal Wedding

By Louise Mackie
Curator of Textiles and Islamic Art

Did you know that The Cleveland Museum of Art owns a spectacular 15th century brocaded velvet with radiant gold thread that inspired the velvet cope worn by the Archbishop of Canterbury when h!

e officiated the wedding vows of Prince William and Kate Middleton during the royal wedding on April 29, 2011?

At the Royal Wedding

Splendid Italian velvets with large pomegranate patterns were high fashion for more than a century in Europe – about 1420 to 1550 – and were often featured in Renaissance paintings and large tapestries. Variations occurred in the details of the pattern and in the quantity and quality of the costly gold thread. Since pomegranates symbolized eternity, fertility, and resurrection, these velvets were often used by the Church and the aristocracy for dress and furnishing fabrics. Expensive, high-quality gold thread dominates, forming the background and the main vine. Extravagant gold-thread loops create the smaller leafy vine and enrich the crimson velvet pile, which boasts three luxurious heights instead of the usual one. The intense deep crimson color of the lustrous silk pile was expensive and high fashion. Its color intensity changes from light to dark and dark to light depending on the angle of light. Some churches acquired costly pomegranate velvets to decorate their col!

umns on special holy days.


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