About this artwork
The only surviving embroidered altarpiece from Spain, this sumptuous work re-creates the characteristic elements of a painted retable from the Spanish kingdom of Castile. They include the base, or banco, with the Resurrection at its center, and a cult image of the enthroned Virgin and Child crowned by a small scene of the Crucifixion. In the wide fame, angels’ heads alternate with the owner’s arms, mimicking the dust guard or guardapolvos typical of painted altarpieces. Pedro de Montoya, the owner, was the active and worldly bishop of the diocese of Osma; he no doubt appreciated both the portability and rich surface offered by the embroidery.
The Abegg-Stiftung, a private foundation in Riggisberg, Switzerland, generously undertook the altarpiece’s conservation as a gift in 2016.
- Altarpiece of the Virgin and Child
- Made 1460–1470
- Linen plain weave ground appliquéd with linen and silk plain weaves and silk velvet; embroidered with silk floss and creped threads, gilt- and-silvered-metal-strip-wrapped silk threads, seed pearls and metal spangles
- Inscriptions: upper: "O Homo Recordare Quia Pro Te ISH Hec Tormenta Pasvs Est" (Remeber, O Man, that Christ suffered these pains for Thee) lower (possibly): "Resvrexit Dominvs Ivstvs Vere et Aparivit Simoni" (The Lord is risen indeed and hath appeared to Simon) Bishops coat of arms
- Retable (a): 167 × 203.5 cm (65 3/4 × 80 1/8 in.) Altar Frontal (b): 89.2 × 211.8 cm (35 1/8 × 83 3/8 in.)
- Gift of Mrs. Chauncey McCormick and Mrs. Richard Ely Danielson