Scenes of the Life of the Virgin, from an Altar Frontal

Scenes of the Life of the Virgin, from an Altar Frontal

1330s or 1340s

Silk, gold thread, linen; raised work, embroidery: split, stem, running, fishbone, and couching stitches

Overall: 16.8 x 127 cm (6 5/8 x 50 in.); Mounted: 27.9 x 137.2 cm (11 x 54 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1978.36



This rare panel originally hung above a large
embroidery that decorated the front of an altar in
a church. The narrative begins with the Virgin’s
parents and her early life; that panel is now in
the Toledo Museum of Art. Cleveland’s portion
continues the story with the Annunciation of the
Virgin, Adoration of the Shepherds, Adoration of
the Magi, Presentation of Christ, Christ among the
Doctors, and the Assumption of the Virgin. The
Death of the Virgin scene is likely missing. Painters
usually sketched designs on stretched linen for
embroiderers. Gold thread enriches the background
and is secured in place with couching stitches in a
small brick pattern.

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