Velvet fragment with Sempervivum tectorum motif, late 15th–early 16th century
Silk velvet brocaded with metal–wrapped thread; 16 3/4 x 23 in. (42.5 x 58.4 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1951 (51.139.2a,b)
The stylized floral design of this textile is delineated by fine lines of green silk velvet; the rest of the surface is covered with gold metal-wrapped threads, lying flat in the background and forming loops in the plant forms. The large flowering plant in the center and the vine that surrounds it can be identified as Sempervivum tectorum (now commonly known as "hens and chicks"), a species of hardy succulent that has the ability to thrive in extreme mountainous conditions. Recent research has revealed that this plant motif was associated with the Sforza family of Milan starting in the mid-fifteenth century. Variations on this pattern were also produced as monochrome pile-on-pile silk velvets and the Museum has red and green examples.