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Artist/maker unknown, Italian (chasuble) and German (orphreys)

Made in Italy, Europe
And made in Cologne, Germany, Europe

c. 1450-1480

Cut and voided silk velvet weave; orphreys: linen compound twill weave with silk embroidery in couching, chain, encroaching satin, and padded satin stitches, laid work, and French knots

Center Back Length: 44 1/2 inches (113 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Elizabeth Wandell Smith Fund, 1939

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During the late Middle Ages, decorative woven borders were used as an alternative to embroidered orphrey bands and crosses on church vestments (ceremonial garments worn by church officials). The dimensions, shape, and placement of the orphreys of this chasuble from the late fifteenth-early sixteenth century indicate that it was used in Northern Europe, probably France. Constructed from Italian cut and voided silk velvet decorated with the thin-line pomegranate pattern that was popular in the second half of the fifteenth century, it is ornamented both front and back with orphreys of a type woven in Cologne, Germany, from the fourteenth to the early sixteenth century. These narrow woven borders were manufactured on a large scale in Cologne and exported throughout Europe. The Cologne orphreys had designs of flowering trees, wreaths, geometric patterns, and inscriptions. Additional embellishment frequently took the form of embroidered figures, such as the one seen here of Saint Brice, archbishop of Tours.These bands are woven with colored silks on a background of gold thread with religious inscriptions in Latin--"Jesus Mary Hail Queen [of] Sorrows" (front) and "Mary Jesus Saint Briccius" (back)--as well as the figure of Saint Brice, archbishop of Tours, which is overembroidered in satin stitch.