I was interested to see a fascinating exhibition of these lace-decorated devotional images in the Kantcentrum in Bruges. They show images of saints or the holy family and are decorated with lace borders, they often have a prayer written on the back and many were associated with specific points in the Christian calendar. The cards in the exhibition were mainly produced by publishers in Paris after 1830 and were distributed at catechism classes and after church services. Many were personalised and given as a record of first communion or as memorial cards at funerals. Most of them have a punched frame of lace, rather like a paper doily or the laser cut lace of today. However on a previous visit to Bruges I saw some that had surrounds that looked like lace prickings and many that included pricked designs, like lace grounds, within the main design. I didn’t see any of these in the current exhibition, but the information board said that Antwerp was the centre for the production of these cards from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, so perhaps they were earlier designs. I need to do some more research!
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