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Orphrey

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1310-1325 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, embroidered with silver, silver-gilt and silk thread

  • Museum number:

    T.72-1922

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The orphrey depicts the Tree of Jesse (see also 37, 43, 63). Although the piece has been abruptly cut at the bottom (as also at the top), the partial figure of Jesse can still be seen. Above him, enclosed within the tree’s twining stems, are King David, two other kings (possibly Solomon and Rehoboam), the Virgin and Child, and Christ in Judgment. There is a seam in the orphrey above the figures of the Virgin and Child; although the pieces are carefully joined and apparently intended to match, it is clear that the upper piece, depicting Christ, was not made with the rest of the orphrey, being worked slightly less skilfully on a different linen ground. The background is embroidered in underside-couched silver-gilt thread, with slight variation in its simple patterning between the inside and the outside of the enclosing vine branches. The figures are embroidered with coloured silks in split stitch, and every available gap in the design is filled with vine leaves and grapes, some in raised work. When this orphrey was acquired by the Museum, it formed part of the cross orphrey mounted on the back of a modern chasuble (illustrated in that state in Christie 1938, pl.lxx); a pillar orphrey on its front was embroidered in a different style with scenes from the Life of the Virgin and of Christ (now mus. no. T.72a-1922). Two small panels depicting supporting angels, which had been added to the Jesse orphrey to make it cross-shaped, were removed and attached at either side of the Crucifixion on the other orphrey.

Physical description

Linen embroidered in silver, silver-gilt and silks in underside couching, split stitch and a little raised work.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1310-1325 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Linen, embroidered with silver, silver-gilt and silk thread

Dimensions

Height: 29 cm maximum, Width: 22.5 cm maximum

Object history note

Said to have come from a church in Spain;
acquired in Paris by Georges Saville Seligman;
purchased from him by the V&A, 1922

Descriptive line

linen embroidered in silver, silver-gilt and silks in underside couching, split stitch and a little raised work; Tree of Jesse

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

Catalogue of English Ecclesiastical Embroideries of the XIIIth to XVIth Centuries, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, museum catalogue, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 4th edn. London, 1930, cat. no. 12

Christie, Grace, ‘The Tree of Jesse in Medieval Embroidery’, Needle and Thread 3 (1914), 18–24; London 1921, pp.77-82, cat. no. 135

Christie, Grace, English Medieval Embroidery: A Brief Survey of English Embroidery dating from the Beginning of the Tenth Century until the End of the Fourteenth (Oxford, 1938), cat. no. 63; London 1963, cat. no. 60

King, Donald, Opus Anglicanum: English Medieval Embroidery, exhibition catalogue, London, Victoria and Albert Museum (London, 1963), cat. no. 60

The Franco-British Exhibition of Textiles, exhibition catalogue, London, Victoria and Albert Museum (London, 1921) cat. no. 135.

Browne, Clare; Davies, Glyn; Michael, M.A., English Medieval Embroidery: Opus Anglicanum, exhibition catalogue, London, Victoria and Albert Museum (London, 2016), p. 171, cat. no. 36
Art and the courts: France and England from 1259-1328, Vol. II, Ottawa, 1972, pp. 148-9.

Materials

Silver gilt thread; Silk thread; Linen

Categories

Christianity; Ecclesiastical textiles; Embroidery

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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