Orphrey Panels from a Chasuble

Date: early 15th century

Geography: Made in Prague

Culture: Bohemian

Medium: Silk and metal thread

Dimensions: Overall (a-Chasuble): 39 1/4 × 29 in. (99.7 × 73.7 cm)
b-Christ the Redeemer: 20 11/16 × 8 5/16 in. (52.5 × 21.1 cm)
c-Coronation of the Virgin: 16 13/16 × 7 13/16 in. (42.7 × 19.8 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Costumes-Ecclesiastical

Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1961

Accession Number: 61.16a–c


Both the enthroned Virgin and Christ have the rounded facial features and soft, ornamental drapery outlining the body that characterized the style of the court school at Prague in the early fifteenth century. The shimmering gold disks of the background find their echo in some contemporary paintings from Bohemia. The embroidery is part of an embroidered panel, or orphrey, that once decorated a priestly vestment.

The 1355 inventory of Saint Vitus Cathedral in Prague includes a banner described as the work of the Bohemian saint Ludmila. But while needlework was long considered work appropriate for virtuous women, there are no women's names among the embroiderers active in Prague in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.