Spanish Apparel with Embroidered Metal Thread Grotesque Motif
Spanish, 16th century, apparel panel with a silk and metal thread embroidered grotesque motif, a term used to describe a variety of motifs and figures and one that highlights the “doubleness” of motifs. Left and right sides always mirror one another. This piece and one like it would have been found on the front and back at the bottom of a vestment robe called a dalmatic. The dolphins, along the bottom, since they swim alongside ships symbolize Christ guiding the church. The Phoenix is a symbol of resurrection and of eternity, the bird could never die. Typical motifs from the 12th – 16th century when most of the population was illiterate, and therefore images were very important to convey ideas. In the center is a medallion with Saint Peter, on the left, and Saint Paul, on the right. Saint Peter with keys (kingdom of heaven), Saint Paul with sword, book (¼ of the New Testament is by St Paul!) — and then how he met his end as a martyr, beheaded in Rome — hence the sword. These Saints are shown together often as holding together the church. I say this piece is Spanish due to the central medallion being simplistic, if it were French or Italian the center cartouche would be more ornate. This piece has something a little unique to the couched metal thread embroidery, there is polychrome silk thread woven and embroidered throughout giving highlights, various couched techniques used throughout.
WIDTH: 20 in | HEIGHT: 14¾ in
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