Embroidery: silk and linen on linen ground; contours of design applied with ink
Overall: 143.6 x 152.4 cm (56 9/16 x 60 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1979.1
The theme of the holy kinship, represented in the central medallion, was based on an apocryphal account of the three marriages of Saint Anne, mother of the Virgin. It was one of the many themes that developed in the visual arts as a result of the controversy over the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin and the development of the cult of Saint Anne. Lending authority to the immaculist theme in the embroidery are symbols of the evangelists and, and in the corners, Saints Jerome, Gregory the Great, Augustine, and Anselm—the four fathers of the Latin Church. Linen embroidery was a cottage industry in South Germany and the German cantons of Switzerland where the Gothic tradition persisted well into the 1600s. As is characteristic of linen embroidery, only the design of this panel is embroidered, using 18 different stitches. The monumentality of the design, the dignity and spontaneity of the figures, and the fine execution of the embroidery itself distinguish this as one of the finest examples of Swiss or South German linen embroidery of the 1500s.
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