TillbakaThe Drama of Life

Marian chasuble

Chasuble embroidered overall with metal wires, silk thread and freshwater pearls, all but three of which are now missing. The late-medieval design of this chasuble has been heavily modified with the passing years.

The comprehensive background of the chasuble consists of roundels of gold wire sewn on in couchwork, with velvet stitch sections, in red silk thread, in between. The figural embroideries are partly in low relief. The white relief sections, such as the Virgin’s crown and the haloes, wee once encrusted with freshwater pearls. On the back of the chasuble we see the apocalyptic Mary, surrounded by rays and the crescent moon. The Christ Child stands on her knee, and in her left hand she holds an apple.

The centre part of the motif is in low relief. The Virgin’s mantle is richly decorated with roundels imitating costly velvet fabrics. Mary and the Christ Child are surrounded by seven quatrefoils with themes from the Seven Joys of Mary: the Annunciation, the Nativity of Jesus, the Adoration of the Magi, the Resurrection of Christ, the Ascension of Christ to Heaven, the Pentecost or Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary, the Ascension and Coronation of the Virgin. The quatrefoils are edged with velvet stitch in various shades of green. At the bottom of the chasuble is a fragmentary angel holding an enigmatic object.


The front of the chasuble has been much altered. The figural embroideries are positioned to either side of a secondary orphrey let into the fabric. From top right: St Catherine of Alexandria, the symbol of St Matthew the Evangelist, Sankt Lawrence and the symbol of St Luke the Evangelist. From top left: St Erik, fragmentary and partly concealed by appliqué embroidery representing St John, the symbol of St John the Divine, St Barbara and the symbol of St Mark the Evangelist. In the centre, part of an orphrey from another liturgical vestment has been added to this chasuble.

The orphrey consists of three figural scenes in an architectural framework. The uppermost scene shows the Virgin and Child with St Anne, with Anna, Mary’s mother, carrying Mary and the Christ Child on her arms. The scene in the middle shows the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth. The fragmentary scene furthest down represents John the Baptist.


Several big changes have been made to this Marian chasuble over the years. It was further mutilated in the 19th century, with the removal of a scene showing Mary delivering souls from Purgatory, as well as pictures of the donor and his wife. The chasuble is lined with a blue Central Asian silk from the 13th or 14th century, patterned with a row of small dragons and rabbits. Today these look brown, but they used to be golden. The chasuble lining was added in the 17th century and was previously a tunic or dalmatic.

The chasuble has been attributed to the workshop of Albertus Pictor, but recent research has shown it to be probably older than this, and it may have been commissioned by the consecration of the new altar to Our Lady in 1459 or for the reconsecration of the high altar in 1466.