Gallenga stenciled velvet jacket, 1920s
The textile art of Maria Monaci Gallenga (1880-1944) is often compared to that of Mariano Fortuny because they both produced hand-stenciled designs that drew inspiration from the distant past. Gallenga became the mentor of the Italian Futurists.
In 1923 she won the Silver Medal in the Monza Design Exhibition. In 1925 she designed and exhibited in the Italian Pavilion at Exposition International des Art Decorative et Industrial in Paris, winning the Grand Prix for stenciled textiles. This is all the more remarkable because Fortuny was then the most prominent Italian designer.
Gallenga's loyal followers, who frequented her shop in Florence, preferred the mysterious, antique, Gothic quality of her designs. She is best known for medieval and Oriental designs stenciled in shades of silver and gold.
The cocoon shaped jacket, lined with black silk, is made from rich, burgundy-hued silk velvet hand stenciled with shades of bronzed gold. The fluid Celtic style pattern is the perfect choice for the loosely shaped jacket, signed with a barely legible signature "Maria Monaci Gallenga" on the lower front. The jacket is quite special in that many Gallenga pieces are unsigned.
The Gothic stenciling has an exotic fascination that draws the viewer into the rich mystery of the burgundy colored velvet, "the aristocrat of stuffs," to use Mariano Fortuny's phrase. (The reciprocal artistic influences between Fortuny and Gallenga are worthy of a PhD thesis.) The phrase was used by the Renaissance world that inspired both costume artists.
Gallenga became an overnight sensation at a theatre opening in New York in 1916. She wore her "medieval" gown, which attracted more attention than the play. Like our fabulous jacket, her gown on that fateful night was also stenciled by a miraculous process whereby the pattern appeared to float on a weightless fabric.
Throughout her career, Gallenga remained true to her original formula for stenciling on silk velvet. She often used up to nine tones of gold and silver pigment to achieve the desired ombré shading. The metallic pigment does not tarnish or flake off, thanks to a special formula devised by Gallenga's husband, a Professor at the University of Rome.
This superb jacket is wearable art at its best. The inspired design is as fresh and exciting today as when it was first created. You can wear it as an evening jacket over a long slinky gown or wear it with blue jeans.
The condition is excellent and wearable.
One size fits all. The jacket is 26" long at the center-back.