Venetian Carpet Acquisition


In the past few months, we have received some wonderful new additions to the collection, the most recent being a striped wool Venetian carpet dated c. 1830. The carpet was made by Lucy Follansbee Whitmore of East Lebanon, New Hampshire and measures an incredible 14 feet x 9 feet. Family history tells us that Lucy hand spun and dyed the yarn and then wove the rug herself. Although the carpet has some damage, the fact that it is still intact shows just how durable Venetian carpets are.

Venetian carpet, 2010.230

Here’s some history on Venetian carpets:

Venetian carpets are one of the earliest types of homemade carpets found in this country. Striped Venetians can also be seen covering the floors in various English and Dutch paintings of the period. Venetian carpets could be made with all wool or wool in combination with other fibers, such as cotton or tow (coarse linen). Generally brightly colored, Venetians were woven in strips and sewn together forming large room sized carpets. (Think of a really large rag rug.) Venetian carpets were also commonly used on stairs and in hallways. According to historians, the term “Venetian” has no connection to Venice, Italy; the carpets were reportedly never made in the Italian city. That being said, no one is certain why they were labeled Venetian. One source suggests that the name could have stemmed from the reputation many dye houses in Venice had for producing brightly colored fabrics. Regardless of etymology, the American Textile History Museum is pleased to have this Venetian carpet in its collection.

Deborah-Ann Giusti
Curatorial Assistant

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