Accurate Example Spread 0

Accurate Example Spread 0 cover
Book Info

Book wide text

Matteo Pagani
Italian, active 1538–62)
"The Accurate Example" (L’Honesto Essempio)
1556
Book with woodcuts and letterpress in later binding; book, closed: 205 x 161 mm (8 1 ⁄ 16 x 6 3 ⁄ 8 in.). Belle M. Borland Endowment, 1985.83.


An early purveyor of do-it-yourself embroidery and lace pattern books, Matteo Pagani of Venice also printed woodcut portrait broadsheets, maps, and large-scale wall designs. The only surviving impression of his eight-block frieze of The Procession of the Doges of Venice has maps of Corsica, Sardinia, and the world on the verso, ample evidence of his other printing schemes and reuse of paper in the shop. His popular pattern book appeared in at least three editions between 1550 and 1556, with differing woodcuts and dedications to Vittoria Francese, Duchess of Urbino, among other women. These modular patterns with sea gods and flowers were devised for wallpaper-like repeatability.
The upper of the two bands in the Chicago “Accurate Example” centerfold includes half of an ornate vase, suggesting that the pattern could be continued and completed in reverse. Much of Pagani’s material was copied from variations from across Europe. The book includes images for different types of lace making and embroidery, among them, as Pagani boasts in the title, patterns for cut lace, a difficult type of openwork with space between floral and other vignettes. While woodcuts in other editions show women working at a small loom directly from the book, these patterns were in fact meant to be pricked with a needle at the major points of the design, creating holes through which a charcoal powder would be pressed and the image transferred onto the fabric. Some books include a grid reminiscent of graph paper, which was used to change the scale of the design depending on the needlewoman’s desires. The pages in the Chicago example do not appear to have been pounced or resized in this manner, but as many as eight may be missing.