Italian and Netherlandish

Not on view

Although this resembles a chasuble- the tabard-like garment worn by a priest during ecclesiastic services- this piece was probably never worn, and instead only assembled in the very late nineteenth century, likely by a dealer to appeal to the collectors' market. There are multiple patches of two different crimson Italian velvets, both of good quality, thick with deep pile, of the design style called "inferriata" or "ferronerie" because of their similarity to scrolling ironwork.

The velvet fragments have been cleverly assembled to create the ground of the garment, to which have been attached very high-quality embroidered strips, heavy with metal thread imitating a basket weave. The embroideries are likely earlier in make than the velvets, and attributable to northern Europe, perhaps the Southern Netherlands. They are punctuated by ten shields (four on the front, six on the reverse) each bearing items of the "Arma Christi"- the Instruments of the Passion associated in the Bible with Jesus Christ's Crucifixion- executed in "or nué" technique: on the front, the whipping Column; the Crown of Thorns; Saint Peter's sword and a martyr's palm; the Cross; the soldiers' dice (twice- on front and reverse); the torch and mace (twice- on front and reverse); and, on the reverse, the flagellum and reed; and the thirty pieces of silver of Judas's betrayal. Another chasuble in The Met's collection (58.167 in the department of Medieval Art) includes strikingly similar embroidered strips with the Arma Christi, which might originally have graced the same set of vestments as these.

Added to these, are two small panels depicting anonymous bishop saints, which have been positioned as if the arms of the cross on the reverse of the garment; though at first glance these appear similar to the embroidered strips with the shields, closer inspection reveals them to be vastly inferior in both technique and raw materials, and likely salvaged a third and much later work.

Chasuble, Silk and metal thread, Italian and Netherlandish

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