Presenting one of a matching pair of framed rare Belgian lace armorial panels we are offering. Our antique war lace panels were produced in and during the blockade of occupied Belgium during World War I. These pieces not only display the renowned delicacy, detail and exceptionally fine Belgian lace workmanship, but also have the added depth of an unusually rich historic narrative. Both their existence and their design tell a story of the power of human hope, spirit and ingenuity in the face of war and oppression.
Belgium was occupied by German forces during WWI. In response the British blockaded the country, leaving Belgium cut off from the world. The American industrialist Herbert Hoover (later president of the United States), deeply concerned about the continued well-being of the Belgian people, negotiated to not only allow food and medical aid to be brought in, but added a unique stipulation that also allowed thread to be included in the emergency support. This was the lifeblood for the continued production of the exquisite hand made Belgian lace that been coveted for generations the world over. Completed lace was then allowed out of the country for sale, giving some Belgians a source of income in an otherwise very dark time.
In turn, the lace makers encoded their gratitude and hopes for a future of freedom, by creating designs that often incorporated the coats of arms of the Allies. This the design of this piece is of the Belgian coat of arms, depicting lions rampant and the state motto "L'Unite Fait la Force", or "Unity Makes Strength" - a both poignant and quietly subversive reminder of the Belgian national spirit to be exporting under occupation.
This piece is almost identical to a panel incorporated into a exceptional tablecloth in the Smithsonian Collection, that includes each of the Allies' coats of arms, including this one, within its design. The Smithsonian has held a special exhibit of its fine collection of Belgian war laces, and is a fabulous resource for anyone wanting to learn more about this unique moment in history.
This warm white to light ecru piece is in superb condition and has been professionally mounted with the work very discretely stitched onto a white fabric ground. Set within a simple gold painted wooden frame under glass. Measures 11 1/2" (30 cm) square, as framed. Lace panel is 8 1/4" (21 cm) in diameter. There are no discoloration, stains, damage etc. Any irregularities that might appear on the lead photo is due to normal light playing across the surface, which is not evident after being masked and cropped.
This would make an enviable and unique addition to a lace or military history collection, but also stands alone as a subtle, neutral colored yet richly detailed decorative piece.
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