The most ancient mention, known at the present day, of bobbin lace in Italy, occurs in a deed, drawn up at Milan on the 12th September 1493, in the assignment of property to two sisters, Angela and Ippolita Sforza, Visconti. There, one can read: ” Una binda lavorata a poncto de doit fuxi par uno lenzolo”; a band of work done with twelve bobbins to trim a sheet.
As rapidly as the industry of pillow lace-making passed into various countries, so, as we have seen in the case of Switzerland, each locality specialized it in some manner, that various characteristic laces were accordingly produced, and came to be identified with their native places.
In Italy, Milan and Genoa were two principal towns in which pillow lace was extensively made, whilst Venice remained the chief center for needlepoints.
Very frequently the less complicated patterns for needle-made laces were adapted and reproduced by the pillow lace makers.
The Milanese point like the Venetian guipure originated in passement and developed rapidly into a superb lace at the end of the sixteenth century.
Milan, after first making passements, adopted patterns of flowing scrolls and blossoming flowers, after the style of the Venetian points a “foliami”.
In these, we have another sort of guipure, the leading feature of which is the bold flowing scroll devices. These undoubtedly lacked the rich reliefs which abounded in the Venetian needlepoint laces of similar.
Ornamental motifs: the flowers in this Milanese lace were flat and wrought with the appearance of compactly woven linen ; here and there, somewhat sparsely, would be introduced open fillings (ajours), or else small holes would be left to lighten the tape-like effect of the close work. At the same time, were used plaited bars or ties as a ground in the earlier patterns.
Establishing differences …
It is usual that all the pieces of antique guipures which have a very floral design are ascribed to Milan and all those composed of arabesques to Genoa.