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Altar frontal

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1600 (made)
    1400 - 1500 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Satin with silk embroidery

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Altar frontal of pink satin with orphreys of embroidered silk in a variety of colours. The orphreys are arranged in an M-shape, with one central T-shaped orphrey flanked by two straight vertical orphreys. Between the 'bars' is an insciption. Shown at the top-centre is Jesus Christ, crucified, and flanked by angels receiving the Holy Blood in chalices, with the Virgin Mary and St. John at his feet. Beneath them, arranged vertically, is an unidentified female martyr holding a palm frond, and the top-half of St. Andrew. Both are shown beneath floriated arabesque archways. The left-hand orphrey has three figures, dressed in 16th century style, arranged vertically beneath gothic gateways. On the right-hand orphrey, depicted is St. Mary Magdalene (possibly), St. Bartholmew, with knife and book, and St. Apollonia with tooth and tongs. They are heralded in the same way as the central panel.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1600 (made)
1400 - 1500 (made)


Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Satin with silk embroidery

Marks and inscriptions

'E / K'
'R / K'


Weight: 1.02 kg, Width: 170 cm, Height: 94.5 cm

Object history note

Purchased from Monsieur Vitall Benguiat, Savile Row.

This altar frontal together with the chasuble (935-1901) are said to have come from Sawston Hall, Cambridgeshire, the seat of the Catholic family of Huddlestone.

Descriptive line

embroidered, ca. 1600, English; Pink satin with orphreys

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

Kendrick, A.F., English Embroidery, (George Newnes, New York, 1904) p. 49-50

Production Note

The frontal is decorated with three orphreys, which would have previously been attached to chasubles. The left-hand and central orphreys appear to date from the fifteenth century, and the right-hand appears to date from the early sixteenth century. The whole object was probably assembled at some point in the sixteenth century.


Satin; Silk



Subjects depicted



Christianity; Embroidery; Ecclesiastical textiles; Textiles


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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