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Velvet with Pomegranate Pattern

Velvet with Pomegranate Pattern

1450-1500

Silk, gold thread; velvet: three heights of cut pile, gold thread loops

Overall: 300.9 x 56.5 cm (118 7/16 x 22 1/4 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1973.20

Description

This extravagant Italian velvet with three heights of lush crimson pile is lavishly embellished with gold-thread loops. Large pomegranate patterns such as this were fashionable in Europe for more than a century, about 1420 to 1550, and were often featured in paintings and in large wall tapestries. Variations occurred in pattern details, pile height, and gold thread. Since pomegranates symbolized eternity, fertility, and resurrection, these velvets were often used in Roman Catholic churches. This pomegranate pattern inspired the cope, or cloak, worn by the Archbishop of Canterbury when he officiated the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

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