The San Juan de los Reyes Antependium (Toledo, ca. 1530)

The antependium, or altar frontal, that we are looking at today is dated to 1530 with its origins being identified as Toledo, Spain, originally made for the Franciscan monastery of San Juan de los Reyes which was founded by King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain to commemorate their victory over Alonso V of Portugal. Today it is housed in the Spanish textile collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

San Juan de los Reyes by Jenaro Perez Villaamil

The historic high altar (left) and the reredos as seen today.

The base material of this particular frontal is a beautiful red velvet that is augmented by gold, silver and other coloured threads. 

Liturgically speaking the frontal is, of course, red, and if you look around at the smaller medallions, one will see St. Francis of Assisi receiving the stigmata, Christ carrying the cross and a scene of martydom. While difficult to make out, possibly included is also Melchizidek which his offering of bread and wine and the resurrected Christ. 

The central medallions tie into the theme of St, John the Baptist, showing the Baptism of Christ to one side, and the Virgin and Child with the young St. John the Baptist in the other. 

Some further details:

A beautiful work coming from one of the most important centres for embroidery in Spain in that period -- and certainly one fit for the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, and, more importantly, fit for divine worship and the King of Kings. 

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