Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery
1 Oct 2016 – 5 Feb 2017
The V&A brings together a selection of the most outstanding examples of English Medieval embroidery.
During the 12–15th centuries England established itself as a master producer of rich and intricate high-quality luxury embroideries. The creation of professional craftspeople in the City of London, they were referred to as Opus Anglicanum (English work) and sought after by kings, queens, popes and cardinals across Europe.
This autumn the museum provides a rare opportunity to see an incredible array of surviving examples in one place – some of which have not been displayed in Britain since they were produced. The embroideries are joined by paintings, illuminated manuscripts, metalwork and stained glass that offer insight into the time in which they were created.
The Steeple Aston Cope – produced between 1310-40 – involves such skilled craftmanship that it can be assumed that it was created for a very wealthy patron. The cope was later passed to the small parish church of Steeple Aston, where it was documented in 1844 as 'a very valuable relic of the olden time'. The winged angel on horseback can be seen playing a lute – this is considered to be the earliest depiction of such an instrument in medieval art.