Emperor Vespasian Cured by Veronica's Veil

Flemish, Brussels

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 959

This tapestry illustrates the legend of Veronica’s veil, an episode from a twelfth-century French epic poem, La Vengeance de Nostre Seigneur (The Vengeance of Our Lord), an amalgam of apocryphal sources from the first century which tell of the Roman Emperor Vespasian’s campaigns in Jerusalem. The poem was popularized in the fourteenth century as the subject of mystery plays. Portrayed at center, Veronica has been brought to the Emperor Vespasian, who kneels before her, in order to cure him of his illness. Veronica holds the cloth with which she had wiped perspiration from Christ’s face as he carried the cross on the road to Calvary. Christ’s image was transferred to the cloth along with his miraculous healing powers. Undoubtedly woven by the finest weavers, it is remarkable that this tapestry escaped the French Revolution when a vast number of tapestries containing gilt or silvered threads were melted down and destroyed.

Emperor Vespasian Cured by Veronica's Veil, Wool, silk, and gilt-metal-strip-wrapped silk in slit, dovetailed, and double interlocking tapestry weave., Flemish, Brussels

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