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Abbatial mitre from Sant...
Room 15



Textiles and clothing

Anonymous

Abbatial mitre from Santa Maria in L'Estany

Italy (?), Spain (?) (fabric); France (?), England (?) (embroidery)
Fabric (14th C.), embroidery (14th C.)
Fabric: silk warp and weft, twill and taffeta decorated by float with silk warp and gold wefts; Embroidery: polychrome silks and silver gilt thread
28.5 x 30 cm
From the monastery of Santa Maria in L'Estany (Bages)
MEV 374

Outer fabric of twill four lats, warp and weft of ochre silk, originally white. Inner fabric of taffeta decorated by weft float, silk warp, weft of silk and gilded silver. Lining of linen, flat tying, warp and weft of natural linen. All three fabrics are made on the shaft loom. We do not know the exact place where the fabrics were made. Decorated with embroidery done on a linen base placed in a frame and applied later to the silk twill fabric. The embroidery is of needle-painted polychrome silks and figures; and of gilded silver couching point. The two sides of the mitre are edged at the top by a line that forms the branch from where acanthus leaves sprout, forming a structure equivalent to the dustcover of the panel of an altarpiece. The centre, the bottom and the sides of each side are decorated with a narrow band of gilded silver thread, where there are quatrefoils with a rhombus inside that alternate a decoration of swastikas and four-petalled flowers, both of gold on a silk background. Between the quatrefoils there were gems applied, now lost, of which only the empty spaces remain. On the front and back, on either side of the vertical strip, there is a quatrefoil with a figure inside. On the front there is the Annunciation. The Archangel Gabriel is in the left-hand quatrefoil with a phylactery in his hand reading: “Ave Maria”; in the one on the right there is the Virgin standing with the book in her hand, with the vase with three lilies in front of her on the ground, the dove on her halo, and behind her a chair with high legs and backrest. The bodies of both figures are inclined in the characteristic Gothic way. Above each figure, outside the quatrefoil, there is a small circle, with a quatrefoil inside, with a gold flower in the centre. The distribution on the back is the same: it shows the Coronation of the Virgin. In the quatrefoil on the left there is Mary, sitting on a large bench with acanthus leaves at the ends, wearing a crown on her head and with her hands together in a gesture of adoration. In the quatrefoil on the right there is Jesus sitting, wearing a crown of fleurs-de-lis, blessing his Mother with his right hand and with his left hand touching the orb with a cross on it, on the bench. The lappets are trimmed with a red silk fringe. The iconography of the mitre corresponds to the exaltation of the figure of Mary, identified with the representation of the Church, an exaltation that begins with the Annunciation of the divine maternity and ends with her coronation as Queen of Heaven, a theme often used in the Gothic period. The embroidery is very delicate from the technical point of view. Stylistically it falls within the purest 14th-century Gothic. We do not know exactly where it was made. It has many points in common, iconographical, stylistic and technical, with English Gothic embroidery, 'opus anglicanum'. On the other hand, the faces and expressions are also very close to French Gothic courtly embroidery. An in-depth study of this mitre is necessary to reach exact conclusions. It is an abbatial mitre, not episcopal. The abbot of the monastery of Santa Maria in L'Estany was a mitred abbot, i.e., ranked the same as a bishop: he could wear a mitre and carry a crosier like bishops. There are very few abbatial mitres conserved from the Gothic period and this makes this piece even more valuable.


Room 15
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