Veneto : Brocaded Velvet

14th Century,<br />
Brocaded Velvet

Brocaded Velvet

Silk and gold thread textile; 23 x 9 in, (58.4 x 22.9 cm)

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletchet Fund 1946; 46.156.72

This length of "Brocaded Velvet" represents many things for Venice and it's surrounding countryside in the 14th century. Primarily this includes how the production and sale of such an exemplary and expensive piece of fabric created jobs and revenue for nearly all socio-economic classes. This and other such industries offered much to the effort of restructuring and rebuilding society after the many crises of the 1300s, from the plague, to famines and floods.

Furthermore the importation of techniques, craftsmen, and materials from abroad that this textile required easily brought about the first wave of the Black Death in 1348. The trade of silk thread, dye materials, or the transport of techniques from the East all could be vectors of infection for the disease that killed as much as 70% of Venetians in its first outbreak.

Indeed, the burgeoning 14th century silk industry of Venice proved a both a boon and bust for The Floating City, simultaneously creating wealth and lowering social disparity while possibly carrying the disastrous disease that so frequently defines the proto-Renaissance era. Within the next century, the silk textiles of Venice and the Veneto would develop into a massive industry, a product renown throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.