Embroidered Hanging

Date: late 14th century

Geography: Made in probably Hildesheim, Lower Saxony, Germany

Culture: German

Medium: Silk on linen, painted inscriptions

Dimensions: 63 x 62 1/2 in. (160 x 158.8 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Embroidered

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. W. Murray Crane, 1969

Accession Number: 69.106


This hanging is related in style and technique to embroideries from the convent at Wienhausen, a wealthy Cistercian establishment in Lower Saxony in north central Germany. The nuns of this house were ladies familiar with aristocratic life, and their embroideries feature both religious themes and scenes from courtly romances. The pattern worked in wool in this example consists of six pairs of scenes, each illustrating one episode from the life of Christ and its prefiguration in the Old Testament. The middle row of scenes, for example, matches the Acclamation of King David with the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, and the Sacrifice of Isaac with Christ Carrying the Cross. In the latter pairing, the scenes share formal similarities as well as typological relevance: Isaac, the would-be sacrificial victim, carries wood for the burnt offering, and Christ bears the cross to Calvary in preparation for this own sacrifice. Such iconography is not uncommon in medieval art, and the nuns who made the hanging might have borrowed the design from images in manuscripts.