Venice, first half of the twentieth century
The whole twentieth century has been characterized by a constant need to experiment. The numerous artistic movements of the beginning of the century had in common a similarly constant desire for renewal and an aspiration to cut off the ties with the past and traditions.

The Burano School, founded on March, 14th, 1872 by Countess Andriana Zon Marcello, under the patronage of Queen Margherita, went into a completely different direction, successfully trying to revive the ancient and prestigious tradition of the needle lace of the past. In 1878, fifty-five items were presented at the Universal Exhibition of Paris; the school created the fans for queen Wilhelmina of Holland and the wedding veil for Elena of Montenegro and Edda Ciano. Among the clients there was Pope Pious XI and Evita Peron (D.Davanzo Poli, Il Merletto Veneziano, Milan, 1998). The school also restored and reproduced ancient lacework pieces and soon BURANO lace became a symbol of exceptional quality and elegance all over Europe. The school managed to face the economic crisis determined by the First World War, but its activity began to decline around 1940.

An official visit of queen Margherita to the school took place around 1910 – in a difficult period during which the school was trying to revive its cultural and productive activities. The queen is in the exhibition room escorted by the manageress of the school and two of the most skilled lace makers are offering an essay of their art.

The atmosphere is very luminous, with two tables habillée, a large exhibition board and a group of five life-size dummies wearing the most typical lace pieces made at the school. The manageress is showing Margherita a precious fan, dating back to the eighteenth century, that has been successfully restored by the school pupils. The queen herself is wearing a magnificent tie made with Burano lace dated around 1750.
  • At the end of the nineteenth century women were not yet allowed to attend university or fine arts institutes; there were only two teachers’ training schools in Rome and Florence. The greatest ambition for women was to become elementary teachers. Queen Margherita became honorary president of the first female training school founded in Rome and of the Society for female education and greatly favoured embroidery, sewing, cooking and domestic economy. (R. Bracalini, La regina Margherita, Milan, 1983, p.107).
  • On January 9th, 1878 Umberto and Margherita became king and queen of Italy. In the same year, in Milan, a new fashion magazine began to be published called Margherita in honour of the queen. A few years later she said to her daughter-in-law, Elena: “Nothing is too expensive or too beautiful for the queen of Italy”. Her majesty preferred light shades for evening dresses and she never forgot to wear her beloved pearls, les perles de la Reine. A string of pearls is the usual Christmas gift of the king every year; gossipers used to say that Umberto gave Margherita a pearl necklace for every affair he had. (Centro Studi e Ricerche Arnaldo Caprai, Da Elisabetta I a Margherita di Savoia - l'Arte nelle Riedizioni - Foligno, 1997, p.22).
  • On April 22nd , 1868, in the ballroom of the Royal Palace the civil wedding between Margherita and prince Umberto was celebrated. Once the ceremony was over, the spouses went over to the balcony to greet the crowd gathered in front of the palace; later, in St. John’s Cathedral, the archbishop of Turin with the bishop of Milan and other prelates celebrated the nuptial blessing. The future queen of Italy was wearing a heavy white silk dress and a long mantle embroidered with silver threads and decorated with bunches of daisies, orange blossoms and bellflowers, interwoven with Savoy knots. (M.Gabriella di Savoia, S. Papi, Gioielli di Casa Savoia, Milan, 2003, pp.16-18).
  • In the first years of its life, the school of Burano barely recouped expenses for the salaries of its students-workers because they were still rather inexperienced and their wages actually exceeded the profits derived from the sale of their lacework. Nevertheless, in few years, thanks to the “pitiless strictness” of the teachers that destroyed less-than-perfect works, Burano lace achieved an amazing degree of perfection, to the point that the school was invited to participate in the Universal Exhibition of Paris with fifty-five lace pieces. (D. Davanzo Poli, Il merletto Veneziano, Novara, 1998, p.116).
  • The lace made in Burano soon became famous outside Venice, entering the most important and fashionable ateliers of the time, such as Worth’s and Paquin’s in Paris, (eliminato: in) national museums, imperial courts, aristocratic palaces or, more simply,the homes of all fashionable ladies. Precious wedding veils were given by Queen Margherita on the occasion of the weddings of Princess Letizia and Duchess Isabella. A magnificent wedding veil made in Burano was worn by Queen Elena too, and some Venetian ladies gave her a sumptuous parasol made in "punto in aere". (R. Strinati, I Merletti ad Ago e la "Scuola di Burano", Rome, 1926, pp.85-86).
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