Antique Needlepoint Lace   

          from the collection of Marla Mallett

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Since the 16th century, needlepoint lace has epitomized luxury and elegance. Although it most likely developed in Italy for ecclesiastical use, it was soon exported throughout Europe and produced in several places. Needle lace became an essential part of every 17th century court costume -- male and female -- and elaborate ruffs, collars and cuffs appeared in endless European portraits.  Its most serious competition came from the bobbin lace of Flanders, and that primarily in the 18th century. 

Click on the links below to see larger photos and magnified details of the structures. The laces on these pages have all been sold, and are posted here solely for informational purposes.   

Reticella/Punto in Aria

The first needlepoint laces were made in Venice and undoubtedly developed out of fancy drawnwork like that above. Eventually designs broke free of the cloth entirely: scaffolding threads were couched to a parchment base, then covered with buttonhole stitches. This more freely formed work became known as Punto in Aria, or "stitches in air."  The firm, heavy needle-made structures were much like the 19th century cuffs at the left, with motifs at first based on a geometric grid, then gradually becoming curvilinear.   [L-1056]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Mixed Technique Lace

This 17th century Italian lace border shows experimentation: narrow bobbin-made tapes were combined with areas of needle-made button-hole stitches. The artisan also experimented with a variety of decorative fillings.  Bars or brides connecting the pattern parts assumed a fan-like arrangement.  [L-3000]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Gros Point de Venise

Buttonhole stitches formed every part of this firm, heavy needlepoint guipure lace. Thick cordonnets outlining the heavy scrolling flowers were completely covered with buttonholing. Because one side of this stitch was bulkier than the other, closely worked cordonnets tended to curve; thus scallops, circles and sweeping curves developed naturally. Buttonhole-covered brides connected the motifs, and a variety of fancy stitches were used as design fillings. Magnificently sculpted three- dimensional Gros Point styles developed in 17th century Italy (1650-1670), but this example is a late 19th century rendition.  [L-672]  

Larger photo


Brussels Point de Gaze

Although this delicate, filmy needlepoint lace looks vastly different from the border above, it was made with the same basic stitches. Point de Gaze laces were among the finest and most expensive of 19th century products, and most were made in Belgium -- with the most exquisite said to have come from Brussels.  Small inserts of this needle lace, called Rose Point, were frequently combined with Brussels Duchesse bobbin laces.  [L-856]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Venetian Point Plat

The small angular floral scrolls on this collar represent a style that appeared in the late 17th and early 18th century -- both in Italy and elsewhere. Worked on a minute scale,  design parts were joined with buttonholed brides ornamented with picots. Tiny buttonholed circles were applied to the flowers. A similar lace was called Coralline.  [L-168]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Point de Venise

In stark contrast with the piece above, this luxurious collar is firm, durable needle lace with scrolling flowers and a heavy outlining cordonnet. The deeply scalloped piece has a high-necked collar, cleverly shaped with no seams. It was made around the end of the 19th century. 
[L-3003]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Point d'Alençon

Bouquets of flowers and ferns accompanied by winding strapwork with intricate fillings characterize this sophisticated needle lace made in the 1852-1870 period of the French 2nd Empire. Luxuriant naturalism was achieved with subtle shadings. In the réseau (mesh) a pattern of tiny hexagons was formed by an extra thread twisted through each row of open buttonhole stitches. Nevertheless this mesh is filmy, and without magnification looks like the more fragile Brussels Point de Gaze. Often the various parts of this lace were executed by specialists -- the toilé by one person, elaborate fillings by another, réseau by another. Sometimes up to ten specialists were involved.  [L-855] 

Larger photo and magnified detail



Burano Réseau

This lace collar, with its broad scrolling floral motifs, has cordonnets that are neither dominant nor buttonholed, so the work is fairly flat, with an understated elegance. The mesh was made with extra threads twisted through each row of loops, as in the Alençon flounce above. Because these supplementary threads were pulled tight, they created a distinctive ladder-like appearance in the mesh, a feature suggesting that this piece came from the small island of Burano, near Venice. It was probably made in the early 19th century, but after a revival of lacemaking there in 1874, several early styles and types of work were duplicated.  [L-1230]  

Larger photo and magnified detail

Point de France

This narrow collar with fanciful scrolling flowers has a sturdy hexagonal mesh with all parts covered in buttonhole stitches. Thus such lace was among the most time-consuming to produce. The piece has prominent cordonnets, a variety of fillings, and small frilly additions that provide a three-dimensional effect. The Point de France style developed in the late 17th century, but this piece was probably made in the early19th century.  [L-1231]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Needlepoint Guipere, Point de France Style

This elegant monogrammed medallion was made in the same manner as the collar above, but on a larger scale. It is sturdy lace, because all of the connecting bars in the hexagonal ground mesh were buttonholed. The pronounced cordonnets have also been closely buttonholed, and polished to a high sheen. [L-847] 

Larger photo

Brussels Point de Gaze

After examining heavy laces like those above, it is difficult to keep in mind that the same processes and stitches were used for delicate pieces like this fine Brussels fan leaf. The tiny looped stitches -- close together in design areas and farther apart in the background -- were all done one at a time, with a needle and thread. A wide variety of fancy filling stitches enhance this pattern of flowers and scrolls. The piece was made between 1860 and 1890.  [L-115]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Cutwork and Filet Lace

This dramatic tablecloth features a center panel of unusual cutwork (needle lace) and embroidery on ivory linen. A wide filet lace border has scrolling patterns needle-woven in linen stitch and darning stitch. More examples of this popular netted lace appear on the Other Laces page.  [L-233]

Full view and larger photo

Reticella

On this Victorian rendition of Italian Renaissance needle lace, diagonal elements dominate within a basic Reticella grid. The technique is identical to that used for 16th and 17th century work, but the flavor is different. This might at a glance be mistaken for machine-made lace, but magnification discloses all-over buttonhole stitches.  [L-37B] 

Larger photo

Point de Gaze

Here's a totally different approach to needle lace.  In the naturalism of the floral forms, this exquisite lace looks much like Point d'Alençon, but the ground is that of Brussels Point de Gaze. A scan does not convey its delicacy.  [L-3013]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Point de Gaze

This collar is TINY.  It's only 1 1/4 inches deep, yet is filled with flowers, leaves and scrollwork in the Belgian needlepoint style.  It's all tiny buttonhole stitches!  [L-432]

Larger photo and magnified detail



Point de Venise

This plastron, or bib-like neckpiece, was made of sturdy lace with a heavy cordonnet and buttonholed brides. Since similar lace was made in several places, including Belgium, Ireland and Burano, Italy, attributions are difficult. [L-1006]

Larger photo

Point de Gaze

Here's one more example of the incredibly delicate needle lace made in the last half of the 19th century in Belgium. Although the style differs from sophisticated Brussels work, the technique is the same: the entire collar is composed of tiny buttonhole stitches, including the mesh ground.  I have found only small pieces done completely in Point de Gaze, because for shawls, stoles and wide flounces, individual floral motifs were more often appliquéd to machine-made net to save labor.  [L-93]  

Larger photo and magnified detail


Brussels Lace

Here is a late 19th century combination of Brussels Point de Gaze and Duchesse bobbin lace on a small collar. Needlepoint inserts are frequently much smaller, but in the photo here, everything is needle work, except for the border and small sections of bobbin lace at the top.  [L-1026]

Larger Photo

Point Applique

On the upper part of this collar, needlepoint motifs were sewn to machine net. In the magnified detail it is clear that this net continues under the applied figures; the threads of the net even differ slightly in color. The lower part of this collar was designed in a guipure style with no net, the needle-made motifs held in place with buttonholed brides.  [L-78]

Larger photo and magnified detail

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MARLA MALLETT
1690 Johnson Road NE
Atlanta, GA  30306   USA

E-mail:  marlam@mindspring.com
Phone:  404-872-3356            



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