We are sending one of our star pieces of lace to Switzerland, where it will be shown at the Swiss National Museum, in an exhibition titled ‘The Tie. men fashion power’. The exhibition covers the evolution of the tie, from the seventeenth century to the present day. Our piece will be shown with examples from the Swiss National Museum’s comprehensive collection, and alongside objects lent from the Rosenborg Collection in Denmark, Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris, and Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Our lace cravat with fetching blue ribbon is part of the Blackborne Lace Collection (2007.1.1.124). This huge assemblage of lace, one of the largest and most important in the world, was donated to The Bowes Museum in 2006 by the descendants of Anthony and Arthur Blackborne. They were 19th century lace dealers, and the collection includes their remaining stock, along with their study collection of historical lace.
The cravat is a reconstruction, made by historical costumier Luca Costigliolo, it brings together a panel of exquisite 17th century raised Venetian needlelace with a modern linen neck tie, and blue silk ribbon. The reconstruction draws inspiration from the famous Grinling Gibbons carving of a lace cravat, now in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Carved from limewood, it dates to c.1690, making it roughly contemporary.
Our Blackborne lace panel dates to 1665-85. It has a symmetrical design of leaves and flowers, developing from a central vertical motif. It is edged with a delicate triangular motif, and topped with a later bobbin-lace.
The cravat is now in the safe hands of our art handlers, and I will be travelling out to Zurich to meet it next week. My role is to unpack the crate, check the condition of the cravat, and liaise with the technical services team in creating a bespoke mount for it, before installing it into the display case.
The cravat is normally on show in our Fashion & Textile Gallery. It has also been displayed in the ‘In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion’ exhibition, which was shown at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace in 2013, and again at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse in 2014.
Upon its return to the Bowes Museum in early 2015, we’ll be re-installing it into the Fashion & Textile Gallery for our visitors to enjoy.
Katy Smith, Textile Conservator