Holland, first half of the eighteenth century
The eighteenth century is the century of Enlightenment, of the exaltation of reason that enlightened the minds of men and led them on the road of progress and happiness. “Enlightened” by this new spirit are personalities such as Diderot and D'Alembert, Rousseau, Kant, Newton, Hume, just to mention a few.

If in the seventeenth century Holland experienced a period of great splendour, thanks also to its remarkable economic growth and very modern political and social organization, in the eighteenth century the country began to decline, just when the power of Great Britain, on the contrary, began to grow.

The eighteenth century is also the century of “femininity” (A. Kraatz, Merletti, Milan, 1988), of a completely feminine fashion.
It will be the moment of revenge for bobbin lace, especially for the soft, elegant BRUSSELS lace.

We are inside a refined and comfortable room of the Dutch upper-middle class; a lady is offering a cup of tea to a friend. The diffusion of this drink, directly imported by the Company of West Indies, is documented by many engravings of the time. Beside the mother is the lady of the house’s young daughter. Seated near the bow window, a third lady is reading a book; beside her, on the bow window bench, are precious embroidery tools made in ivory and silver, a small case and a work box.
  • In 1662, the English government stopped the import of foreign lace, in order to protect English products, and tried without results to arrange for the arrival of some Flemish lace makers in England (as they did in France). At that point, the smuggling of enormous quantities of Brussels lace began; it was smuggled in the most unusual ways, even inside coffins. The lace was afterward sold with a tag that documented its English production, thus confusing the data on the official quantities imported. (J. Montupet, G. Schoeller, Lace The Elegant Web, New York, 1990, p.100).
  • In 1678, the marquis of Nesmond ordered the inspection of a ship suspected to be smuggling Flemish lace to England. The cargo included over 744,953 bracci of lace. Besides them, a lot of handkerchiefs, collars, fichus, aprons, underskirts, fans and so on, everything elegantly trimmed with lace, were found too. (B. Palliser, Histoire de la Dentelle, Paris 1892, p.95).
  • From the correspondence between Mrs Delany and her sister, Ann Granville, we know that, although the former had not clearly specified what kind of lace she had bought, on October 10th, 1737 she wrote to her sister: "I bought some lace, and I chose for you some very elegant evening gowns, made with Brussels lace". (S. Levey, Lace A History, London, 1983, p.46).
  • While Napoleon I especially tried to revive the art of Alençon lace, he was also particularly fascinated by Brussels lace, and when his only son, the little “King of Rome”, was born, he commissioned a christening gown with the embroidered initials “N’s”, along with crowns and cherubs. The garment was sold by Christie's in 1903 for about 120 £. (E. Leigh Lowes, Chats on Old Lace and Needlework London, 1908, pp. 112/115).
  • In a graceful portrait of queen Marie Amelie, painted by the German artist Franz Xavier Winterhalter, famous court portraitist, it can be observed that the queen was wearing a black velvet dress trimmed with three flounces of Brussels lace. The bonnet, the trimming of the hairstyle and the fichu were also made with the same velvet. (E. Leigh Lowes, Chats on Old Lace and Needlework, London, 1908, p.116).
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