Flame stitch as we know it is a 16th century Italian creation believed to have arrived in Florence through a marriage of a Medici to a Hungarian princess. Based on its resemblance to ikat patterns it could also have originated in Central Asia and brought to Italy via the Silk Road.

Flame stitch is also called Bargello for a Florence museum with early examples, as well as Florentine stitch, Point D’Hongrie or brick stitch. It is easily recognizable for its zigzag design and as it usually uses a gradation of colors, multiple hues for each color, it provided a burst of colors in the dark European interiors of the time.

Technically it is a straight upright stitch worked over a basic unit of four threads of the ground material. The stitches are made in series of stepped zigzag lines that create an effect of flames, ovals or stepped patterns. It resembles the Hungarian stitch and the brick stitch and is probably a combination of both. Usually done with wool on a canvas ground, flame stitch panels were durable. Originally used for interiors but later incorporated as fashion accessories like purses and shoes.

This panel is richly nuanced with five to six shades for each color. The narrow borders feature horizontal flame stitch. Its condition is stabilized, and it is recently backed with heavy linen.

Circa: 18th century

Origin: Florence, Italy

Material: Wool, linen backing

Condition: Some embroidery loss, good condition

Dimensions: 110” x 40”

Inventory number: NS00012



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