Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • The Tree of Life, first half of 17th century
    English
    Canvas worked with silk thread; tent, Gobelin, and couching stitches; 22 1/2 x 24 1/8 in. (57.1 x 63.1 cm)
    Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.1305)

    This unique image of a miraculous tree bearing multiple species of fruits and vegetables can be identified as the biblical Tree of Life. A multifruiting tree is described in the Book of Revelations; a tree that grows in the celestial City of God bearing twelve types of fruit that ripen during every month of the year. This association with the Tree of Life in Revelations is reinforced by the curling grape vine wrapped around the trunk of the tree, which is symbolic of the Passion of Christ and the promise of eternal life.

    The addition of numerous animals and the presence of both the sun and the moon also refer to the abundance of the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis.

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  • The Tree of Life, first half of 17th century
    English
    Canvas worked with silk thread; tent, Gobelin, and couching stitches; 22 1/2 x 24 1/8 in. (57.1 x 63.1 cm)
    Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.1305)

    Macro image, magnified 30 times

    Macro image, magnified 30 times

    Although some of the colors in this peacock's tail are faded, the fine details in the feathers are still visible. The black silk which once defined these details can still be detected in the interstices of the foundation fabric.

    Black threads are often subject to accelerated deterioration as a result of the dyes and dye processes used.


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