Cope

ca. 1890 (made)
Cope thumbnail 1
Cope thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Over the course of seventy years Sir John Ninian Comper (1864–1960) was responsible for building 15 churches and for the decoration of scores of others. He also designed vestments, banners and windows for churches all over the world. It has been claimed that he was the greatest church furnisher since Wren, and Sir John Betjeman said of him that: ‘his ecclesiastical tastes are rococo; he is perfectly satisfied so long as gold leaf is heaped on everywhere’. Despite this critique, he did work firmly within the Arts & Crafts principle that functionality was paramount. Comper died on 22 December 1960. His ashes were buried beneath the windows he designed in Westminster Abbey, where he had been responsible also for the Warriors’ chapel.

The silk for this cope was designed by Sir Ninian Comper and woven by Perkins and Sons Ltd. The red silk was called ‘Cathedral Damask’, the green silk ‘Kensington’.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silk damask lined with silk, canvas covered with silk damask and embroidered with silk and gold threads, and trimmed with a fringed braid of silk
Brief Description
Cope made of silk damask, lined with silk and with a hood and orphreys of canvas covered with silk damask and embroidered, designed by Sir Ninian Comper, woven by Perkins and Sons Ltd., and embroidered by the Sisters of Bethany's School of Embroidery, London, ca. 1890
Physical Description
Cope made of red silk damask and lined with green silk with twill weave, and with a hood and orphreys of canvas covered with blue silk damask and embroidered with floss silks and with gold thread in long and short, split satin and stem stitches with laid and couched work or nué. The hood is trimmed with a fringed braid of red, white and green silk.



The decoration on the hood is of the Pentecost.



On the right hand orphrey there are Saint David of Wales, Saint Hilda (Abbess), and Saint Columba of Scotland.



On the left hand orphrey there are Saint Edward the Confessor, Saint Margaret of Scotland, and Saint Patrick of Ireland.
Dimensions
  • Centre back length: 58.5in
  • Outspread width: 120in (maximum)
  • Length: 148.5cm
  • Outspread width: 304.7cm (maximum)
Style
Production typeUnique
Gallery Label
International Arts & Crafts Comper was an architect and designer working in the Gothic style. He undertook a number of commissions for churches and designed richly decorative embroidery for vestments and altar frontals. Here the orphrey band is embroidered with figures of saints. The embroidery on the hood symbolises Pentecost, which for Christians is a day of hope.(17/03/2005)
Credit line
Given by the Sisters of Bethany
Object history
The silk was designed by Sir Ninian Comper and woven by Perkins and Sons Ltd. The red silk was called 'Cathedral Damask', the green silk 'Kensington'.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Over the course of seventy years Sir John Ninian Comper (1864–1960) was responsible for building 15 churches and for the decoration of scores of others. He also designed vestments, banners and windows for churches all over the world. It has been claimed that he was the greatest church furnisher since Wren, and Sir John Betjeman said of him that: ‘his ecclesiastical tastes are rococo; he is perfectly satisfied so long as gold leaf is heaped on everywhere’. Despite this critique, he did work firmly within the Arts & Crafts principle that functionality was paramount. Comper died on 22 December 1960. His ashes were buried beneath the windows he designed in Westminster Abbey, where he had been responsible also for the Warriors’ chapel.



The silk for this cope was designed by Sir Ninian Comper and woven by Perkins and Sons Ltd. The red silk was called ‘Cathedral Damask’, the green silk ‘Kensington’.
Bibliographic Reference
Livingstone, Karen & Parry, Linda (eds.), International Arts and Crafts, London : V&A Publications, 2005
Collection
Accession Number
T.671-1974

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record createdJanuary 27, 2005
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