The Holy Family

Flemish, Southern Netherlands

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 959

This small tapestry depicting the Holy Family was probably made as an object of private devotion. Small hangings like this were designed in workshops that specialized in creating cartoons (large-scale drawings) based on contemporary paintings and prints. In this Holy Family the indoor/outdoor setting juxtaposes a divine interior with a worldly exterior. Mary and the Christ Child sit in a partially enclosed room while Joseph appears from a balustraded window with a distant view of a village in the distance. The attributes of the interior setting carry symbolic content. For example, the books on the shelf above the Virgin represent the Old and New Testament. The pomegranate to the left on the shelf symbolizes the Resurrection while the basket of sewing materials in the near ground alludes to the domestic aspects of life on earth.

The Holy Family, Wool, silk, and gilt- and silvered-metal-strip-wrapped silk in slit, dovetailed, and interlocking tapestry weave with supplementary brocading wefts (in sewing basket, Joseph's coat, and hem of Mary's cloak), Flemish, Southern Netherlands

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