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A tapestry wall hanging or altar frontal (Antependium) fragment panel, probably Nuremberg, German

circa 1475-1525

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306
A tapestry wall hanging or altar frontal (Antependium) fragment panel, probably Nuremberg, German

circa 1475-1525

JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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A tapestry wall hanging or altar frontal (Antependium) fragment panel, probably Nuremberg, German

circa 1475-1525

of horizontal format, woven in imitation of late fifteenth/early 16th century silk damasks, brocades and voided velvet textiles, with a salmon coloured ground with overall horizontal repeat pattern, with alternating row of large and smaller ovoid five pointed stylised floral motifs in dark cerise, centred with correspondingly large and smaller yellow stylised pomegranate and acanthus leaf motifs, with each pair of horizontal repeats interspersed with a running repeat swag in yellow of interlinked alternating stems with scrolling leaves and horizontal stylised pointed leaf design; with a lower banded green, cream and green lower selvedge


Approximately 99.5cm. high, 155cm. wide; 3ft. 3in., 5ft. 1in.
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Provenance

By repute from Church near Strasbourg;
Previously hanging on loan, in Chapel, Leeds Castle, Maidstone Kent;
present Private owners by descent

Catalogue Note

The tapestry panel follows designs used for textile panels woven in the second half of the 15th century and early 16th century, with the two tone cerise and salmon simulating either damask or voided velvet, and the yellow woven motifs alluding to gold detailing. Tapestries of this stylistic group have traditionally been noted as Franconian or Nuremberg in manufacture, and correlate to the dates of the inspirational textiles.

Based on comparable tapestry panels with use of this identical repeat ground design, colour and format, which include figures with Christian iconography it is considered that this present panel could be part of a larger dossal used in a ecclesiastical context as a altar frontal or hanging behind choir stalls. Alternatively due to the lack of any figures it could have been for secular use within a domestic context.

A virtually identical panel to the present panel, woven in the same colours and with the same pattern, and without a figural motif (101cm. by 223cm; 3ft. 3in., 7ft. 4in.), is discussed and illustrated in A. Cavallo, Medieval Tapestries in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993, pp.654-656, and notes the present panel which was on loan then to Leeds Castle. 

Two directly comparable hangings, of the same design, colour and format, are recorded, which include central figures. One is woven with a green cloaked figure with a unicorn (98cm. high, 180cm. wide; 3ft. 2in., 5ft. 11in.),, considered to be a secular subject (Illustrated in H. Göbel, Die Wandteppiche, Part III, Vol.i, 1933, nos.131, and later sold at Sotheby's, Monaco, 4th December 1983, lot 340) and another panel (96.5cm. high, 170cm. wide; 3ft. 1in., 5ft. 7in.) incorporates a standing figure of Saint Margaret holding a palm frond (Sotheby's, London, 4th July 1984, lot 18). Other panels with Christian figures, but different ground designs, are in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg.

Due to the similarities, and especially the layout of the repeat design, between all four of the panels noted, it is possible that they were all originally part of the same hanging, or group of hangings.

Other tapestry examples with a similar pattern are used in a German tapestry, wool, linen and metal-thread hanging, dated to the early 16th century, from the Metropolitan Museum (recorded in von Wilckens Exh cat. New York & Nuremberg 1986, 209), and on two pieces with a similar though more stylised pattern, from The Burrell Collection, Glasgow Museums and Galleries, a German vertical three colour tapestry fragment (op.cit. Cavallo., pg. 640.), and a South Netherlands, horizontal panel with three Saints on a two tone blue ground, dated 1525-1550 (illustrated Guy Delmarcel, Flemish Tapestries, London, 1999, pp.79.), which has a comparable panel in The Cloisters Collection, The Metropolitan Museum (illustrated, op.cit. Cavallo., pg. 595).

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