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Chalice veil

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen embroidered with coloured silks, and couched silver, silver-gilt thread and purl, glass beads and pearls and lined with silk taffeta

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Chalice veil of finely woven cream linen backed with cream silk taffeta, and principally embroidered with silver-gilt thread but with small areas in coloured silks. Embroidery details in purl, silver and silver-gilt and pearls. The metal thread consists of flat strips wound round a silk core. Where used to fill-in part of the pattern, the metal threads are couched down in pairs with yellow silk, and the couching threads are stepped along each adjacent line of metal threads so as to form a brick pattern. A woven silver-gilt braid is sewn round the edge of the veil. The linen is edged with a scrolling foliage pattern, and in each corner there is a foliate and floral motif. Both edging and corner motifs are in couched gold thread with silver-gilt and silver purl with in-fills of coloured silks in yellow, salmon pink and blue.

In the centre is a chalice of couched gold thread, gold purl, pearl and coloured glass beads from which the figure of Christ emerges showing the wounds of the crucifixion on hands and chest (only waist upwards are visible). The figure is embroidered in split and straight stitches in pinkish flesh colours to create realistic contours for the body, hair and beard, and the wound made in his left chest and for the drops of blood from his hands. The nimbus round His head is in red and gold. His eyes are black. The figure is surrounded by an oval ‘wreath’ of interlinked ribbon and stylised floral devices and two grotesque masks. Sprays of scrolling foliage spring from the sides of the oval. The bottom spray shows a heraldic device depicting a lion rampant in coloured silks. The lion is black on a yellow ground under a canopy of red and blue. The embroidery on the lion is damaged.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)


16th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen embroidered with coloured silks, and couched silver, silver-gilt thread and purl, glass beads and pearls and lined with silk taffeta


Width: 57 cm, Height: 56 cm, Length: 22 in, Width: 22 in

Object history note

Purchased. Registered File number 1989/1718.
From the collection of the Swiss collector Leopold Ikle (b. Hamburg 1838).

Descriptive line

Chalice veil of embroidered and woven linen, made in Italy, 16th century


Linen (material); Silver-gilt thread; Gold thread; Silk thread; Glass beads; Pearl; Silk taffeta


Embroidered; Couched; Satin weave; Lined

Subjects depicted

Flowers; Masks; Resurrection; Foliage; Chalice; Lion


Ecclesiastical textiles; Embroidery; Ceremonial objects; Christianity; Religion

Production Type



Textiles and Fashion Collection

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