Merchants, Princes and Painters Silk Fabrics in Italian and Northern Paintings, 1300-1550 Lisa Monnas

Publication date:
28 Jan 2009
Yale University Press
352 pages:
100 b-w + 150 color illus.
Sales territories:

Covering a period that witnessed the flowering of the Renaissance and the major expansion of the Italian silk industry, this volume examines the Italian silk fabrics depicted in paintings from Italy, England and the Netherlands over the course of 250 years. Lisa Monnas offers a masterly evaluation of these paintings as source material for classifying surviving textiles, giving particular attention to the identification of historic textile types and their weave structure.

Monnas examines a wide range of subjects, including silk as a marker of social status, the material possessions of artists and their ownership of textiles as props, the involvement of painters in silk design, and the repetition and transfer of patterns. She considers the evidence of paintings not only for the veracity with which the silks are depicted but also for their value as a historic source concerning the use of fabrics.


Lisa Monnas is an independent scholar.

"Pioneering and lavishly illustrated…This book is the fruit of many years research. It has helpful glossaries and appendices, and should become a standard text for anyone interested in textile and art history. It is highly recommended."
-Jane Bridgeman, The Ricardian XX