G.F. Bodley's Pentecost Chasuble

The gothic revival often doesn't get all the credit it should when it comes to vestment work. It is notably and justly famed for its architecture and metalwork (think of all the wonderful chalices displayed and used in so many churches and cathedrals) but when it comes to vestments, most tend to associate "gothic vestments" with the catalogue productions of the 1950's -- or worse yet, the primitivism of the 1970's and 80's. This is both unfair but also understandable. Unfair because it can be so much more; understandable because the market was saturated with so much of the latter.  We have spoken about the importance of variety and distinctiveness in vestment design (see part one on the gothic form; part two for the baroque form) and another example of this has come to light today.

This particular chasuble comes from the archives of Watts & Co. of London and is the possession of St. Paul's Knightsbridge -- whose white Bodley chasuble we featured this past April (evidently someone in this parish had particularly fine taste in vestments around this period of time). This chasuble, like the white one, is thought to be the design of G.F. Bodley and is a Pentecost chasuble.

The vestment is made of a silk damask pattern that Watt's simply called "Japanese" -- one of their earliest textiles. The embroidery itself was executed by ladies of the parish of St. Paul's Knightsbridge.

Set against this beautiful, rich red damask are designs predominantly in gold. An unusually placed dove with a blue eye is set at the upper back of the chasuble in the midst of the orphrey design.

The real spark of additional colour, however, is reserved for the details of the crown and chalice.  This really emphasizes these symbols in a very edifying way and also adds some further visual interest.

The colours nicely harmonize with the red and gold of the rest of the chasuble and provide part of that spark of distinctiveness that we have spoke of.  This next image better shows this intelligent use of colour harmonies and variety and the affect it has on the whole design.

Incorporated into the orphreys are English Tudor Roses.

A significant part of what sets aside some of the best gothic revival work is its inclusion of bolder patterns or designs throughout the whole chasuble. Bodley fittingly chose to incorporate symbols of tongues of fire throughout the chasuble:

A very fine, beautiful and distinctive piece of craftsmanship from Bodley and Watts & Co. of London -- and another fine treasure for the sacristy of St. Paul's Knightsbridge.

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