Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Embroidery with the Annunciation

mid-15th century
Silk and metallic threads on linen
8 1/4 x 3 3/4 in. (21 x 9.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Lois and Anthony Blumka, in memory of Victoria Blumka, 1990
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 14
In a domestic interior, the Virgin Mary kneels before a prie-dieu on which her prayer book rests. The archangel Gabriel, at the left, greets her with the Gospel announcement of the forthcoming birth of Jesus: "Ave Maria gratia plena dominus tecum" ("Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee," Luke 1:28).

This embroidery, originally part of an orphrey (a decorative band on a priestly vestment) or an altar frontal, is virtually intact. The selvages at left and right are preserved, and the top and bottom have been trimmed only slightly. In its present form, with the scene almost complete and its shimmering silks still remarkably vibrant, it can be appreciated in much the same way as a Netherlandish panel painting—a medium with which it shares many compositional and iconographic aspects. The embroidery typifies the celebrated Netherlandish or "nué" technique, in which gold is used not only to provide glitter but also to add to the rich three-dimensional quality of the pictorial surface—an effect to which the textile medium naturally lends itself.

Please note that this object is seen on a rotating basis, due to conservation requirements.
Ulmann, Hamburg ; [ Sotheby's, London(December 7, 1989, lot 266)] ; [ Blumka II Gallery, New York (sold 1990)]
European Works of Art and Sculpture. London: Sotheby's, December 7, 1989. no. 266.

Merrill, Allison. Medieval Masterworks, 1200–1520. New York: Blumka II Gallery, 1990.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1990-1991." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 49, no. 2 (Fall 1991). p. 19.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "One Hundred Twenty-First Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1990, through June 30, 1991." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 121 (1991). p. 35.

Boehm, Barbara Drake. "Textiles in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 53, no. 3 (Winter 1995-1996).

Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 223, p. 182.

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