1701 / 1725, Portugal

1701 / 1725, Portugal

Identifier
42.97
Transfer of custody
Victoria and Albert Museum
Acquisition
Rogers Fund, 1942
Collection
Material
Technique
Depiction
Production time
Production place
Type of object

Description

Constructed from two different fabrics, this chasuble was probably made and used in Portugal in a Jesuit context. The body of the garment is a Portuguese white silk of the late seventeenth—early eighteenth century brocaded with polychrome silk and chenille yarns. The bright white satin ground of the center panels at front and back are embroidered with silk and silver threads; the materials of this center panel, including the satin ground fabric, are likely from Asia.¹ Narrow metallic woven bands, or galloons, outline the panels and neckline.²A variety of images—including fanciful fountains, unicorns amid cypress trees, spotted leopards, peacocks with tails in full display, and several figures including Hercules and the haloed Christ Child—have been scattered by the weaver throughout the largely secular brocade of the side panels.³ In contrast, the subject matter of the embroidered center panels is entirely Christian. On the front panel are the embroidered initials IHS, the Latin anagram for Jesus Christ used by the Jesuits, while the back panel bears a superimposed A and M for "Ave Maria" (or Hail Mary), the archangel Gabriel’s salutation to the Virgin as reported in Luke 1:28. Above the two letters is a crown, and the entire image is surrounded by lilies. An embroidered inscription, qui pascitu inter lilia, a phrase from the Song of Songs (6:3) that translates as "He who feedeth among the lilies," surrounds a silver Paschal Lamb (representing the Lamb of God). Other Christian symbols in the panels include the Pelican in Her Piety, a flowering rose, and a silver pomegranate. The many references to the Virgin in the imagery suggest that this chasuble was used in a convent or in a Jesuit church dedicated to Marian devotion.⁴This elaborate embroidery, with its variety of silk and metallic threads, shares traits and materials from both Portugal and Asia. The multicolor bands that represent the pelican, for example, are typical of Philippine embroidery (detail), yet the bright yellow dye is weld, a European dyestuff.⁵ The flatness of the needlework and its limited palette, as well as the detailed rendering of the individual feathers at the tips of the birds’ wings, are features that may be more Asian than European. A Peruvian example, based on an Asian model, also depicts bird feathers in this way.⁶ It may be that the embroidery took place in Portugal, with artisans also following the Asian model, using a composite of Asian and Portuguese materials. [Melinda Watt, adapted from Interwoven Globe, The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500-1800/ edited by Amelia Peck; New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; New Haven: distributed by Yale University Press, 2013] 1. The brocade, a five-harness silk on a white satin ground with weft float patterning, includes a number of different colors and types of yarns. Some are unspun silk, others are plied two-color (black and white), and still others are chenille yarns with a pile. The two center panels are a white satin seven-harness ground fabric with warp and weft yarns bearing no twist, which likely was imported from China. The embroidery for the silk is satin stitch, with couching stitches to hold the metallic yarns that outline the designs. The embroidery is sparse, revealing the white background throughout. 2. The tape is composed of weft-faced plain weave with silk warp and silk wrapped with metal-sheet weft. 3. This imagery is related to that in a more narrative panel with a large fountain as its central motif (Metropolitan Museum, acc. no. 35.30). Adele Weibel has identified this type of fabric as either Portuguese or from Extremadura in Spain and believes that a group of related textiles with fountains and chenille threads were produced by the same (unknown) master weaver; see Weibel, Two Thousand Years of Textiles, pp. 151—52, nos. 272 and 276. Another example can be found in the Textile Museum of Terrassa, Spain (no. 20926). 4. Letter from Ann Plogsterth to Alice Zrebiec, December 6, 1979, curatorial files, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Metropolitan Museum. 5. Dye analysis conducted in 2012 by Nobuko Shibayama in the Department of Scientific Research, Metropolitan Museum, using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) confirmed the European dye source. 6. See Elena Phipps in Phipps et al., Colonial Andes, pp. 252 ・ 54, no. 76.