Altar Frontal - inv. 55

Milan, late 15th century; 17th century

Altar Frontal with Christus Patiens
silver   silver gilt   silk   velvet  
108,5 x 302 cm
inscription
"BE AN SF EST"
1882 acquisition Achille Cantoni
Inv. 55a 55b

not on display


The subject and the initials of Beatrice d’Este suggests that this fabric was made as part of the funerary paraments on her death in 1497. The decoration of the velvet with a grid pattern of large leaves is a distinctive fifteenth-century work, as is the figure of Christus patiens, but the colour is the result of more recent dyeing. The body of Christ is painted on the cloth while the sepulchre, the cross and the symbols of the Passion are embroidered using polychrome silk, silver, and silver gilt yarns and paillettes. The embroidery, of remarkably fine quality, presents stylistic affinities with paintings by Venetian and Lombard artists such as Giovanni Bellini and Bergognone. It was bought by the first director of the Museum, Giuseppe Bertini, and it came from the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The border in brown velvet dates from the 1600s and was added at the end of seventeenth century.