Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Fanelli, Rosalia Bonito. “The Pomegranate Pattern in Italian Renaissance Textiles: Origins and Influence.” Contact, Crossover, Continuity: Proceedings of the Fourth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 22–24, 1994 (Los Angeles, CA: Textile Society of America, Inc., 1995), pp. 193–204.


Copyright © 1994 Rosalia Bonito Fanelli


The term "pomegranate motif" includes a series of vegetal patterns—the pine cone, the artichoke, the thistle, variants of the tree-of-life motif, and, in particular, the lotus and the palmette. These last two patterns were closely studied by Alois Riegl in his 1893 work Stilfragen (Problems of Style). The term itself came into use during the period of historic revivalism in the latter half of the nineteenth century. At that time important design theorists and practitioners such as Owen Jones, William Morris, and Walter Crane dedicated space in their writings with accompanying plates to the reconstruction of Renaissance pomegranate patterns. The textile sources could be seen at first-hand in the collections of the then recently created decorative arts museums beginning with the South Kensington Museum (1862) in London. These Italian Renaissance textiles originated in church vestments and ecclesiastical furnishings and were either donated to the museum or bought from antique dealers, among whom was the ubiquitous Canon Bock.