Exquisite 19th Century French Metallic and Silk Antependium Altar Frontal Panel with Opaline Stones
An antependium (from Latin ante- and pendēre "to hang before"; pl: antependia), is also known as a parament or hanging. When speaking specifically of the hanging for the altar, an altar frontal (Latin: pallium altaris), is a decorative piece, usually of textile. The French nineteenth century religious textiles were extravagant works of fine metallic embroidery, stumpwork and braid.
Luscious creme silk worked atop a linen/cotton backing gives this textile a sturdy background for the embroidery work. Unusual teardrop scallops give an additional elegance. Each large teardrop had stumpwork velvet embroidered leaves and flowers. Two metallic beads and one amber glass stone enhance the beautiful design. Fine silk braid outlines each shape and continues upward to connect to the scrolling horizontal design. Stumpwork gold velvet flowers have large opaline cabochon stones set in the center; the fleur de lis between each large flower is set with a single gilt metal stone. The Pax/Chi Rho symbol one of the earliest forms of christogram, is exquisitely embroidered with braided gilt braid (worked in stumpwork) and is set with a radiant opaline stone at the center. Wide metallic braid outlines the top and pretty scalloped metallic braid follows the curves of the lower teardrops. Pretty pleating is done one either side of the Pax symbol.
The back had a cotton band sewn to the top onto which large metal rings are hand sewn for use in hanging to the altar. Two gilt metallic bullion tassels dangle at the bottom center and gilt metallic bullion fringe is delicately placed between the teardrops. The back is lined with the same beautiful silk as the front.
It measures: 36" long, 10 1/2" high at teardrops, 6" at each side. It is in very good antique condition: Fraying to silk typical with age and use, some fraying to bottom front edge at the bullion trim, silk fraying along the back panel typical with age. Please study the pictures as they are the best description, we are happy to furnish other views upon request.
It is a lavishly embellished example. The use of the opaline stones against the creme and gilt gives the textile an ethereal appearance. One can only imagine the beauty of this textile in a darkened church setting with candles above.
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