Alençon Lace

Piece of Alencon lace, mid-18th century. Piece of Alencon lace, mid-18th century.

Alençon lace is a form of needlepoint lace that originates from the town of Alençon, Normandy, France, where from the sixteenth century an industry had developed of cutwork and other forms of embroidery. By the end of the seventeenth century it was selected as a centre for the production of Point de France, and by the early eighteenth century a distinctive form of lace had developed, now known as Alençon lace.  

Jacques Louis David , The Coronation of Napoleon, 1804.Alençcon lace became particularly popular at the French court in the second half of the eighteenth century, but lost much of its importance following the French Revolution. There was a brief period of revival during the First Empire of Napoleon I. Napoleon I wore a cravat of Alençon lace when he was crowned Emperor in December, 1804. The Lefébure firm in Bayeux, established in 1829, made some splendid pieces of Alençon lace in the 1860's, when the lace was again promoted by Empress Eugénie. In the twentieth century the technique was continued by the Carmelite nuns of the town. In 1976 a National Lace Workshop was established in Alençon to ensure the survival of the lace making techniques. 

The coronation of Napoleon, 2nd December 1804 in the Notre Dame, by Jacques Louis David (1805-1807).

Alençon lace is characterised by its very fine mesh background and the designs that are surrounded by a raised rim made with buttonhole stitches and decorated with tiny picots, worked over the tip of a horsehair. Over time the designs became more and more fine and simple.

In the town centre there is the Musée des Beaux Art et de la Dentelle. Alençon lace was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November 2010.

See also the TRC Needles entries on Argentan lace and Point Colbert.

Source: DESPIERRES, Gérasime Bonnaire (1987). Alençon Lace. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press.

Bibliotheca Britannica (retrieved 23rd March 2016).

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 6th July 2016).



Last modified on Friday, 05 May 2017 20:07
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