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Embroidered Altar Frontal – Tuscany – Guest Blogger: Penny Peters

September 3, 2018

In September 2017, I was entranced by an Altar Frontal made in 1601 for the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Pistoia, Tuscany, Italy.  Now restored, it  hangs in the Museo del Ricamo (Embroidery Museum) in Pistoia.  The embroidery consists of flowers, leaves and miniature images derived from nature worked into an all-over design held in a framework of golden scrolls.  The images are closely related to the artistic themes of the time.  They are especially reminiscent of the studies made by Jacopo Ligozzi (1547–1627) and the works in pietra dura (marble inlay) made according to his designs in Florence. The altar frontal is embroidered on cream colored silk, with colored silk thread, gold and silver thread and sequins. In Renaissance Italy embroidery for the Church was often done by nuns.  I have included a photo of a marble inlay piece designed by Ligozzi, and a couple of links to try.  The YouTube video has more images of the altar frontal.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Ann Darling permalink
    September 3, 2018 3:09 am

    Penny Peters you do good work … sharing such a fabulous treasure with us all. Thanks to you and Gail for keeping us all in your loop. Fabulous work.

  2. September 3, 2018 5:16 pm

    Amazing photos Penny! Looks like you could get up close and personal with it.

    • Penny Peters permalink
      September 3, 2018 5:46 pm

      Yes, and no glass! It was quite a thrill.

    • Penny Peters permalink
      September 3, 2018 5:47 pm

      PS I loved the little stitches on the birds backs making them look a bit hairy.

      • September 3, 2018 6:15 pm

        Oh my goodness, yes, what an opportunity!

  3. Barbara Fox permalink
    September 3, 2018 10:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos of the altar frontal piece! The embroidery is amazing–such detail of even the smallest creatures. The YouTube video shows even more closeups of details and the exquisite gold thread work.

  4. Isabel Parker permalink
    September 4, 2018 12:04 am

    What a beautiful and inspiring piece! Thank you Penny!

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