Arts of Spain & Portugal: Textiles

The Hispanic Society holds one of the most important collections of Spanish textiles in North America. In addition to the Hispano-Islamic textiles, the collection contains exceptional examples of late Medieval, Renaissance, and Golden Age silk embroideries and brocades; wool carpets, 18th-century Valencian brocaded silk damasks, and an extensive collection of laces. In the 15th and 16th centuries Valencia produced some of the finest silk velvets and brocades to be found anywhere in Europe. The collection of religious vestments, primarily chasubles and copes, made of cut silk velvet brocade enhanced with palmette and pomegranate designs in gold-wrapped threads, are true works of art. Religious vestments made with less luxurious textiles frequently are embellished with exquisite embroidered panels of colored silk and metallic thread. The collection is unusually rich in early carpets, with several fine examples of 16th-century wool carpets from Alcaraz (Albacete) with Renaissance-inspired wreath designs made in the Spanish knot, or single-warp knot technique. Dozens of examples of intricate network, drawn-work, and bobbin laces from the 16th-18th centuries complete the collection.