RARE Precious Antique 18th Century French Convent Work Metallic Embroidery Religious Reliquary Panel
An absolutely magnificent hand worked panel, it originates from the Burgundy region of France and dates circa 1750. This panel was made within a convent, by a sister or sisters who were very skilled in working fine gilt work embroidery. It is a type of reliquary which often retained a hidden relic in between the layers of fabric, or behind a particular image.
A very large work, it measures 14 1/4" x 11 3/4". Within oval medallions, it honors four saints and nobles; Saint Aurea of Ostia, Countess Gertruda of Saxony (c. 1030 - August 4 , 1113 ), Saint Julius (died 352), Saint Jodocus (Judoc, Saint Joyce or otherwise known as Saint Josse was a seventh-century Breton noble). The central rectangular work honors Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.
As is typical of convent and monastery reliquaries, the materials used were gleaned from old books and fabrics (discarded clothing from local nobility).
The embroidered design is executed on fine ivory colored silk (with a linen lining beneath). The baroque style includes arabesques, flowers, flower buds and leaves. The use of many fine metallic threads and very advanced embroidery stitches provide a richness to the panel that is magnificent. The silk embroidery is very delicate with very intricate silk thread stitches in hues of French blue, sage green, blush pink, crimson red and yellow green. Please look closely at the stitch work; it is absolutely breathtaking.
Each 17th century (circa 1690) engraved portrait in the four oval medallions has been hand colored with watercolor wash. The images are so very typical of engraved portraits of the era and the sheer colors enhance them perfectly.
The central medallion is extraordinary, a hand drawn and painted work on vellum of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, T.O.S.F. also known as Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia (1207-1231). Elizabeth built a hospital at Marburg for the poor and the sick with the money from her dowry. She ministered to the sick and gave money to the poor.In 1228, Elizabeth joined the Third Order of St. Francis. Elizabeth, having received her dowry, founded a hospital in honor of St. Francis, where she personally attended to the ill. She ministered to the sick and provided support to the poor.She is the Patron of bakers, beggars, brides, charities, death of children.
Her figure is drawn with very fine details. Very thin cross hatch work makes the folds and depths of her robes come to life. Her face is benevolent as she gives money to a poor beggar. Her robes are richly colored, especially her bottom skirt which has the most intricate pattern of red, blue and yellow. The beggar's expression depicts thanksgiving and awe in the gesture of the noble woman. God watches from heaven in the symbolism of a white dove within a cloud and rays shining upon Elizabeth. Very delicate flowers of straw, copper and dyed straw cascade around her. Each flower leaf is meticulously hand cut. There is a hand crocheted metallic lace border around the rectangular window frame.
The silk/linen front panel and the portraits rest atop what feels like a hard paper board. The back is lined with a silk cotton fabric with evidence of an old etiquette ticket (hand sewn thread frame at bottom). There is a hand sewn metallic braid which edges the work.
The Saint Elizabeth inset measures 5" x 3 1/8". Each oval measures: 2 1/8" x 1 7/8". It is in amazing condition for the advanced age; light darkening to silk, light fraying to linen, one missing bit of silk beside Aurea medallion (8" o'clock position). The embroidery design is intact, the painted work still brilliant. The backing has darkened with age. Please study the photos as they are the best description of this incredible panel.
We rarely see work of this magnitude. Each element is fantastic on it's own merit. It is a precious religious textile and artistic work, combining both 17th and 18th century work.
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