Italian Venice, Textile length, ca. 1425-1475, Silk cut-pile velvet; 88.9 cm (35 inches) (length), Museum Works of Art Fund 52.110
By the mid-fifteenth century, Venice had long served as the gateway of European silk trade with the East and boasted the privilege of exclusive rights with the Byzantine Empire for centuries. Venice enjoyed fame, wealth, and status as a major center of velvet weaving, the most luxurious of silk-weaving specializations. A technically complex process, velvet weaving lent itself well to monumental floral patterns that highlighted the sumptuous pile. The pervasive pomegranate (or palmette or pine cone) motif, as seen in this textile length, derived from Chinese, Turkish, and Persian sources and became one of the most popular designs of the late medieval and Renaissance periods in Europe.