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Fabulous Dresden embroidery work. 18th Century kerchief /border

Fabulous Dresden embroidery work. 18th Century kerchief /border

Mary Ireland collection - see Blog

I have examined many items of Dresden work, and although this is not of the best condition, it is certainly amongst the finest craftsmanship.

Unlabelled by Ireland, I would date it to the third quarter of the 18th Century. 

Those who are unfamiliar with Dresden work may think that this is lace. It is, in fact, embroidery, be it hard to believe. It is embroidery that died out at the end of the 18th Century because it was far too time consuming to work, and required such high skill. It came about when the price for very fine lace reached such high proportions that only Royalty could afford to purchase, and Dresden work was a slightly less expensive alternative. However, it became so complex and decorative, that it became expensive in it's own right. Thus, only for the very wealthy.

The piece itself is something for debate. Some would describe this as a kerchief border, becuase the un-embroidered muslin, with a turned over top hem, is shallow. However, it is said that these were often worn as actual kerchiefs, so we may never know the truth of it. The top edge is certainly curved to follow the shoulders, and tapers down at each front to fasten into an 18th Century lady's robe.

I must say I have never seen an 18th Century kerchief with a seam between the Dresden work and the muslin, so I am inclined to believe these were actually narrower versions of the full kerchief.

The design has a wide pattern repeat and there are many varied fillings. It really is exquisite work, with flowers, leaves and I think pineapples. 

A fine example of the craft, and in excellent unstained colour. But please read the condition with care.

Precious history. A lost art.


    Although a wonderful colour for age with no staining, this piece has many darns at the upper edge and some within or close to the Dresden work. One small area at the top edge may have been darned but this has come loose and there is a resulting hole. The darning is very fine, but hard work has gone into preserving the piece, because of the quality of the embroidery. Again at the upper edge, these is a very neat patch or repair to the plain muslin. The saddest darn is to the centre back embroidered point, subtle but a shame it comes at the lovely scalloped edge.

    Exceptional Dresden work then, with some preservation work to it.

    The depth at centre back is approx 10". The outside width is is 61"!

    True 18th Century craftsman ship.

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