Some Italian Antependia from the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Today I wanted to share some Italian antependia dated to the period of 1650-1729. The first is dated to the first quarter of the 18th century. This particular frontal is characterized by its exquisitely subtle colourings which includes a central medallion of St. Christopher carrying the Child Jesus. A number of cherubs also decorate this piece, while the bulk of the design of this beautiful frontal takes its themes from the natural world included flowers, vines, fruits, birds and even insects. 

The frontal is framed in gold and is embroidered on silk, measuring 87 x 268cm (34" x 106"). It is Italian in origin and is presently located in Verona. 

Our second example, situated in Sicily, is dated to a similar period, 1729, and is made from silver. Its central imagery is of the Assumption while its outer medallions portray King David -- and here I would add a personal note: these Old Testament inclusions are always of particular appeal and interest to me.

For the details here, I would draw your attention not only to the central silver images, but also to the beautiful details; not only the cherubs, but also the beautiful combination of reds, purples and blues to complement the gold and silver. 

The Assumption of the Virgin

We will conclude with one final example, this time partially painted and partially embroidered, dated to the second half of the 17th century and originating from Bologna.  This particular frontal features St. Cajetan kneeling in front of the Blessed Virgin with the Christ child in his arms. Like to much of the liturgical art of this period, it is strongly characterized by its use of floral and natural forms. 

Those interested in the subject of antependia may wish to review one of our earliest articles here on LAJ, The Historical, Theological, Liturgical and Artistic Case for Altar Frontals

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