Italy, Florence, 15th century
silk, gold thread; velvet: three heights of cut pile, gold thread loops
Overall - h:300.90 w:56.50 cm (h:118 7/16 w:22 3/16 inches)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund
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.