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51. Banner with King David and the coat of arms of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy. Spain, inscribed 1596. Silk and metal thread, 50 x 90 in. (127 x 228.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Melvin Gutman, 1958, (58.172). Cochineal dye was used in the embroidered cartouche.

52. Textile fragment. Spain, 17th century. Compound satin weave silk, the red dyed with cochineal; 17½ x 23 in. (44.5 x 58.4 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Anonymous Gift, 1879 (79.1.26)

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type, then the textile could not have been made before the 1520s, when Spain encountered Mexico and began to import the native insect dye. The cochineal dye that forms the woven pattern on a sixteenth-century silk cope from Spain (fig. 50) no doubt came from the Americas, as did the cochineal red in the embroidered appliquéd cartouche on a Spanish banner inscribed 1596 (fig. 51) and a striking seventeenth-century Spanish silk (fig. 52) that was one of the Museum’s earliest acquisitions. Flocking of wool almost certainly dyed with American cochineal forms the ground in the design on an extraordinary leather and gilt ­chasuble made in Spain in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth ­century (fig. 53). The special expertise of Italian silk weavers fostered a prosperous industry beginning in the twelfth century. Weavers in the northern towns of Lucca, Florence, and Venice imported silk yarns from Spain and Sicily, where the silkworms were raised locally, as well as from Constantinople and beyond. Silk textile production was carefully overseen by the Italian guilds, which strictly defined the methods of production and monitored quality control. As the industry grew, the ability to produce the same color consis-

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Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color  

Elena Phipps The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Winter 2010 Volume LXVII, Number 3 Copyright © 2010 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art,...

Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color  

Elena Phipps The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Winter 2010 Volume LXVII, Number 3 Copyright © 2010 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art,...

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