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Making Fabric

A drawing of a richly decorated room in which four seated women are making embroidery, threads, needle-point and lace. The woman at the spinning-wheel with a child is presumably Cornelia, the daughter of Scipio Africanus and the wife of Tiberius Semproniu

Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, with female companions engaged in needlework ©

It has long been recognised that the ability to depict different types of fabrics is a key skill for painters. Philips Angel wrote in 1642 that an artist should:

“... make a proper distinction between silk, velvet, wool and linen stuffs ... a painter worthy
of praise should be able to render this variety in the most pleasing way for all eyes with his
brushwork, distinguishing between harsh, rough clothiness and smooth, satiny evenness”.

The appearance and feel of a fabric is influenced by the raw materials used to produce threads, the way the threads have been woven together, the way the fabric has been dyed, and the way its surface has been decorated.


Johannes Stradanus (Bruges 1523-Florence 1605)

Preparing the eggs of silkworms

Johannes Stradanus (Bruges 1523-Florence 1605)

Feeding the silkworms (I)

Johannes Stradanus (Bruges 1523-Florence 1605)

Women winding silk