Emperor Vespasian Cured by Veronica's Veil

Flemish, Brussels

ca. 1510
Wool, silk, and gilt-metal-strip-wrapped silk in slit, dovetailed, and double interlocking tapestry weave.
135 1/2" x 135" (344.2 cm x 342.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This tapestry illustrates the legend of Veronica’s veil, an episode from a twelfth-century French epic poem, La Vengeance de Nostre Seigneur (The Vengeance of Our Lord), an amalgam of apocryphal sources from the first century which tell of the Roman Emperor Vespasian’s campaigns in Jerusalem. The poem was popularized in the fourteenth century as the subject of mystery plays. Portrayed at center, Veronica has been brought to the Emperor Vespasian, who kneels before her, in order to cure him of his illness. Veronica holds the cloth with which she had wiped perspiration from Christ’s face as he carried the cross on the road to Calvary. Christ’s image was transferred to the cloth along with his miraculous healing powers. Undoubtedly woven by the finest weavers, it is remarkable that this tapestry escaped the French Revolution when a vast number of tapestries containing gilt or silvered threads were melted down and destroyed.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscription of name below the left foot of the old man in the right foreground: VEZZPEIANVS (worked over linen padding in gilt metal threads); on the veil: IHESVS NAZARENA.

  • Provenance

    Sackville de Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent, England; [J. Seligman, Paris]; J. Pierpont Morgan, New York; [French & Company, New York]. Acquired by Philip Lehman through French & Company in April 1916.

  • See also
    In the Museum