Monday, November 09, 2009

A Gorgeous Madeira Tablecloth

This is one of the nicest old Madeira tablecloths I have ever seen - and certainly one of the largest. It has scalloped edges, and the most fabulous Madeira needlework and embroidery all over - including these amazingly detailed 'cornucopia' panels in all four corners, and lots of dense floral cutwork, as well as many 'bridges'. It must have taken weeks, if not months, to complete. There is also the most beautiful colour variation in the embroidery, random, but obviously intentional, from brown to cream. The work is almost as beautiful on the reverse as it is on the top side. Although it is very old - it came in an auction lot of extremely good (and expensive!) antique linens, which had obviously come from a special collection - it is in superb condition. It was, I think, professionally laundered, many many years ago, and then put away as the precious item it undoubtedly was and still is. Sometimes a piece of linen comes along that has been so beautifully laundered, that you can't bear to wash it again, even though you suspect it might be a bit dusty. It's almost impossible to get this kind of finish with domestic equipment! Given its age, it actually smells quite fresh. Can't imagine anyone serving food on this, though! But what a statement it would make, on a large dining table.

1 comment:

Joan said...


A madeira tablecloth is always a joy and an artistic wonder. I would venture to state that design is not a cornucopia as I see this continually referred to as a Basket. Usually found on cloths for brides, I assume, as many are called Wedding Baskets. Probably the same meaning -- Abundance!

Please don't hide your cloth away. Do use it and enjoy the cloth. There are many SAFE products to use on vintage linens. No bleach! No regular detergent! And absolutely NO washing machines or dryers! Ah the cleaning is easy. It's the ironing that'll kill ya.

Hmmm. Remember your acid-free tissue paper and lavender for storage. No wooden drawers for this vintage linen. Whew. That's a long list, huh? Oh, pour some non-staining white wine and enjoy.