Lace panel, needle lace, linen, maker unknown, possibly Adriatic region, early 1600s
This panel consists of four square motifs, joined in a line. A melusine or double-tailed mermaid, symbol of worldly enticement, alternates with a centaur, originally thought to represent the savage Thessalonian horsemen. The centaur is a mythical creature of Greek origin with the head of a man on the body of a horse.
Although a fragment of cloth is visible along the the bottom of the panel the lace has clearly been constructed separately and stitched to the cloth afterwards. The base foundation is a continuous plaited cord which turns to form the right hand end border. The remaining verticals and the continuous top border are very narrow flat tapes formed by buttonholing bundles of threads. The solid areas of the design are worked in simple buttonholed cloth stitch, mostly divided into narrow strips by various kinds of openwork, for example, rows of twisted buttonhole stitches, or scalloped buttonholed loops. There is no cordonnet, the foundation cord being simply buttonholed closely and decorated at intervals with picots. The melusine's breasts and navel are outlined with a buttonholed cord.
All the faces have embroidered (pink) mouths and fragments of black thread indicate that they once had beaded or embroidered eyes.