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Panel

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1400-1420 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered with silver-gilt and silver thread and coloured silks in split stitch and surface couching on linen, with some padding to produce relief, applied to a later silk velvet ground.

  • Museum number:

    T.91-1968

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This piece shows three figures from a cruxifixion scene: Christ crucified, the Virgin Mary and St John the Evangelist. They were embroidered in about 1425, probably to be applied to an altar hanging, but were subsequently cut off and reapplied to red silk velvet, which is of a later date. This was a common practise. Expensive ecclesiastical embroidery was often reused, or a vestment or hanging might be cut up to suit changing church fashion. The scale of the figures indicates that the scene came from a sizeable hanging rather than from a vestment and would have been quite visible from a long distance away in a church. Stylistically the scene is late Gothic: the figures are fairly insubstantial with elaborately draped costumes and softly waving hair. It is a fine example of later 'opus anglicanum' (Latin for 'English work'), which reached its peak between about 1250 and 1350.

The embroidery is worked with silk, silver and silver-gilt thread in split stitch and couched work.

Physical description

Panel for an altar frontal or dossal in woven silk velvet applied with the figures of Christ crucified, the Virgin and St John on a dark red ground. The Virgin and St John stand on either side of the cross, upon a green island spangled with flowers.

White tabby cloth of Z-spun linen worked with white, yellow, green, blue, lilac, pink, red, brown and black silk threads in split stitch, and with silver and gold threads couched with silk of various colours. The cross is executed in a rudimentary form.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1400-1420 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered with silver-gilt and silver thread and coloured silks in split stitch and surface couching on linen, with some padding to produce relief, applied to a later silk velvet ground.

Dimensions

Height: 29 cm maximum, Width: 22.5 cm maximum

Descriptive line

Panel for an altar frontal of embroidered linen applied to silk velvet, England, c 1400-1420.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Williamson, Paul (ed.), The Medieval Treasury: The Art of the Middle Ages in the Victoria and Albert Museum, museum catalogue, London, Victoria and Albert Museum. (London, 1986), 232.

King, Donald, and Santina Levey, The Victoria & Albert Museum’s Textile Collection: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750, museum catalogue, London, Victoria and Albert Museum. (London,
1993), 18.

Browne, Clare; Davies, Glyn; Michael, M.A., English Medieval Embroidery: Opus Anglicanum, exhibition catalogue, London, Victoria and Albert Museum (London, 2016), p. 257, cat. no. 73.

Materials

Silk velvet; Silk thread; Silver-gilt thread; Silver thread

Techniques

Woven; Embroidered

Subjects depicted

Crucifixion

Categories

Christianity; Ecclesiastical textiles; Embroidery

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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