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Frontal of the Annunciation

Unknown1400/1500

Museu Episcopal de Vic

Museu Episcopal de Vic

Fabric with a damask; four satin base; warp and weft of red silk; made on the draw loom. Braid fringe of purple, yellow, orange and green silk, done on the braid loom. Fabric and fringe almost certainly made in Valencia. Decorated with embroidery done on a linen tabby base placed in a frame and applied later to the satin. The embroidery is picturial, made of needle-painted polychrome silks, of figures, of long stitch, spikelet stitch and cordwork; and of gold and silver couching point, chequered, filled, silk cordwork fastened by gold. Sequins applied. Silk taffeta applied on the damask. Almost certainly done in a workshop in Sant Joan de les Abadesses. The red damask background is decorated with the 15th-century theme of the pomegranate, of Italian origin. They are horizontal rows with a large pomegranate, with the foot formed by a six-sided pinecone, which has a smaller pomegranate inside it. Embroidered in the top band is the inscription: “Ave Maria gratia plena dominus tecum benedicta tu” and each word is separated from the next one by bunches of flowers embroidered in gold and silk threads. The fringe, as on all the embroidered altar frontals from Sant Joan de les Abadesses, is placed below the band. Ten bunches of flowers and leaves alternate at the top and bottom of the frontal, with a distribution that recalls that of the 15th-century fabrics from Granada inspired by the decorative motif of the pomegranate. (In the section of the 15thcentury Andalusian fabrics in the same room you can see a cloth with this kind of decoration, the model for the bunches). On either side of the frontal there is a large circular rosette formed by intertwining thistle branches and flowers. In the middle of each one there is a coat of arms applied with a black wolf on a gold background, the arms of the commissioner, Canon Llobera. In the centre is the Annunciation. The Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin are on six-sided plinths. Between the two of them there is a vase of three lilies, the centre of the scene and the frontal. The archangel is wearing a dalmatic with a lozenge pattern, the paraments of the sleeves are gold embroidered. The Virgin is three-quarter length, sitting on a Gothic throne and with a book in her lap, and she has the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove behind her head. She is wearing the dress typical of the 15th century, high waisted and low cut, made of material decorated with the pomegranate theme, inspired by the gold velvets of the 15th century; over it she is wearing a cloak with the same decoration as the Archangel's dalmatic. Both figures are wearing the liturgical and civil robes of the nobility of the last quarter of the 15th century. The embroidery is very delicate and perfect, and in it we see the work of different hands. The two figures have a very subtle and elegant treatment, the work of a master, while the vase and the rest of the embroidery were left to less expert hands from the workshop, as was often the case in painting and needle painting or embroidery workshops. The cartoon for the scene of the Annunciation was done by a painter influenced by the Flemish style.

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  • Title: Frontal of the Annunciation
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1400/1500
  • Location Created: Valencia (?), Italy (?) (fabric); Valencia (?) (braiding); Catalonia, Sant Joan de les Abadesses (?) (embroidery)
  • Physical Dimensions: w243 x h110 cm (Complete)
  • Type: Textiles and Clothing
  • Rights: © Museu Episcopal de Vic, photographer: Joan M. Díaz
  • External Link: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Medium: Fabrics: damask, silk warp and weft; Braiding: silk and gold; Embroidery: applied silk taffeta, threads of silk, gold and silver, and sequins
  • Style Source: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Style: Gothic
  • Provenance Source: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Provenance: From the monastery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses (Ripollès)
  • Medium Source: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Description Source: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Description Extent: Complete

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