Description This impressive embroidered altar frontal (covering for the front of an altar) once belonged to the Englishman John Grandisson, bishop of Exeter cathedral (r. 1327-69). His coat of arms was added to the garments of the two deacon saints, Stephen and Lawrence (the second and fifth saints, respectively). An avid patron of the arts, Grandisson traveled widely on church business and often imported works of art from continental Europe into England. Made of linen cord wrapped in silver, the thread of the vines surrounding the saints was embroidered to create a raised pattern. This enhanced the reflective quality of the textile. The presence of two of the four symbols of the Evangelists (St. Mark's lion and St. Luke's ox) above St. John the Evangelist and St. Paul (the third and fourth figures) suggests that a central panel, which would have included St. John's eagle and St. Matthew's winged man, is missing.
Provenance John Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter (1292-1369); Bacri Antiquaire, Paris [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1973, by purchase.
Credit Museum purchase in memory of Dorothy Miner with funds provided by the Laura F. Delano Fund, 1973
Download Image Add to Collection Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Creative Commons License