A Cope from Fifteenth Century Spain

The following cope is presently in the possession of the Metropolitan Museum and originates in late medieval Spain dated to approximately the year 1438.  Prior to being in the possession of the Met, it was in the Treasury of the Cathedral of Burgos. 

To my mind it well represents the period of its manufacture insofar  as there are echoes or earlier medieval design influences, combined with a more refined renaissance style, both in terms of the sophistication of the embroideries and of course the main textile that makes up the cope, which is a deep blue velvet ornamented by the classic fifteenth century "a cammino" motif of large lobed leaves. 

Seeing this navy blue velvet might make some moderns think it was intended as a blue vestment, but as we have frequently pointed out, historically dyes and materials were not as easy to come by and as such, very dark blues such as this were frequently used as acceptably close to purple or black vestments, and given the date of this cope (pre-sixteenth century when violet became a formal liturgical colour in the Roman rite) and the motifs on the vestment, which show the Pieta on the back and, on the front orphreys, angels holding instruments of the Passion, we can assume it was likely intended to function as a black cope, for use in times like Lent and Holy Week. 

Whatever the case, it is a particularly refined and noteworthy example coming from late medieval and early Renaissance Spain.

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