A Transitional Marian Cope of the 1600's

One doesn't frequently see floriated embroideries of this type, as seen on the main body of the cope, concurrently paired with explicit figural depictions, as seen on the shield with its image of the Virgin and Child, in one and the same cope for they frequently are representative of the tastes and styles of two distinct eras. In this particular instance, the cope itself has been dated by Sotheby's to possibly originate from Naples in the second quarter of the 1600's. This has raised questions in my own mind as certainly the embroidery style of the body of the cope is something we'd more likely associate to the tastes of the 1700's, while both the style of the shield and its focus on figural depiction, is something that was more 'in vogue' in the Renaissance period (i.e. the 1400's to 1500's). 

However, styles are not borne in a vacuum and must develop and transition from somewhere, so what we may well be observing here is a the transition from the tastes of one era toward those of another, thereby blending the two. Another possibility is that we are seeing the re-use of a shield from an earlier cope that has been re-attached to a newer body that was embroidered later. 

Whatever the case, it is a very striking example of an embroidered Marian cope that utilizes the joyful and colourful floriated motifs that would come to be so often associated with Marian feasts alongside an explicit image of the Virgin and and Child. If one looks closely, one will also see butterflies playfully inserted into the floral designs.

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