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The Holy Family

Flemish, Southern Netherlands

Date:
ca. 1500
Medium:
Wool, silk, and gilt- and silvered-metal-strip-wrapped silk in slit, dovetailed, and interlocking tapestry weave with supplementary brocading wefts (in sewing basket, Joseph's coat, and hem of Mary's cloak)
Dimensions:
40 9/16 x 46 15/16 in. (103.1 x 119.2 cm)
Classification:
Textiles-Tapestries
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.1.1913
  • Description

    This small tapestry depicting the Holy Family was probably made as an object of private devotion. Small hangings like this were designed in workshops that specialized in creating cartoons (large-scale drawings) based on contemporary paintings and prints. In this Holy Family the indoor/outdoor setting juxtaposes a divine interior with a worldly exterior. Mary and the Christ Child sit in a partially enclosed room while Joseph appears from a balustraded window with a distant view of a village in the distance. The attributes of the interior setting carry symbolic content. For example, the books on the shelf above the Virgin represent the Old and New Testament. The pomegranate to the left on the shelf symbolizes the Resurrection while the basket of sewing materials in the near ground alludes to the domestic aspects of life on earth.

  • Provenance

    Gaston le Breton, Rouen; Le Breton sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 6-8 December 1921, lot 331, pl. 34; [Jacques Seligmann, Paris]; Mortimer L. Schiff, New York; Schiff sale, Christie's, London, 22 June 1938, lot 161, ill. Acquired by Philip Lehman through Goldschmidt Galleries at the Schiff sale in 1938

  • See also
    Who
    What
    When
    In the Museum
    MetPublications
459954:4

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