I love reading, studying and learning about church vestments and Ecclesiastical Embroidery. Ecclesiastical Sewing is a field that is steeped in history going back centuries. One of my favorite time periods of study relating to church vestments is English Medieval Embroidery know as Opus Anglicanum. For those fortunate enough to live in the United Kingdom, or who might be afforded the opportunity to travel to England, the Victoria and Albert Museum has what has been termed a spectacular exhibition running through early 2017 on the topic of Opus Anglicanum. Opus Anglicanum refers to embroideries that were noted for the quality of their work, and complex designs that were magnificent.
There was the faintest hope that I might be able to attend the exhibit, but sadly that has faded from reality. As a consolation, I recently received a wonderful resource that I am looking forward to reading and studying. The book is titled “English Medieval Embroidery Opus Anglicanum,” and has been published in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum. The book is the result of the research that was undertaken in preparation for the Opus Anglicanum Exhibit. To give you some idea as to the importance of this exhibit, it is the first major exhibit on the topic of Medieval Embroidery in almost fifty years. The book created for this exhibit is expected to become the standard work of reference. It includes detailed illustrations of works in the exhibit as well as comparable pieces from other collections to aid discussions. The exhibit boasts works from over thirty other lending institutes.
This book is rich in scholarly history and details. The pages are large, the photographs are stunning.
Inside the front cover there is a stunning embroidery dating from the early 14th century. The scene depicts The Betrayal of Christ. The figures are dressed in richly detailed robes that show an excellent example of silk shading. Each portion of the garment folds are worked in rows of stitches in different colors to create the affect of light and dark. The architectural arches are worked in this same style of shaded stitching. Every possible design detail has been included including feet, hair, and facial features.
This next work is a panel which depicts the life of the Virgin. It appears to be worked on a velvet ground. The use of color in this design is quite interesting. The embroidery has several small areas that are worked to indicate textiles. Note especially the bench where Mary is seated and the quilt at her back in the image on the right. One could be lost studying a piece like this for hours. And of course, I admit to my own fascination which has been absorbed in this photograph as the night has turned into the wee hours of the morning. And so l regretfully must lay the book aside for future musing.
This lovely book English Medieval Embroidery Opus Anglicanum is available on Amazon .
For those interested in the history of Opus Anglicanum, this is a most excellent resource.
Soli Deo Gloria
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Filed under: Ecclesiastical Vestments, Liturgical Fabrics, Opus Anglicanum Tagged: Church Vestment Books, Ecclesiastical Vestments, Liturgical Fabrics, Opus Anglicanum