Pontifical Vestments of a Late Eighteenth Century Italian Archbishop

Noble beauty and simplicity are oft spoken of concepts, but frequently also misunderstood. Some have taken to interpret and understand these principles in the light of minimalism and/or faux poverty (i.e. the use of more rustic materials and designs) and while such manifestations are by no means to be principally excluded from potentially manifesting the aforementioned characteristics, neither are they exclusive to them, never mind a requirement. 

To show you what I mean, today I wish to explore another manifestation of these principles in action, coming in the form of a pontifical set of vestments made for the Archbishop of Udine, Gradenigo Gian Gerolamo, who was archbishop from 1766-1786.  The vestments were manufactured in the Venetian region and incorporate elegantly restrained gold thread embroidery set onto an ivory coloured silk.  

The chasuble's design includes grape bunches, pomegranates and stylized floral motifs.  The archbishop's stemma (i.e. arms) is incorporated into the base of the orphrey of the chasuble, delicately coloured in pale green, red and blue in keeping with the preferred palette of that time; it is padded underneath to raise it and give it added three-dimensionality.  The galloon itself is embroidered and utilizes hexagonal designs with leaf/vine work twisted around.  Overall, when one looks at this piece it is once ornamental and yet also rather simple by virtue of its restraint and overall elegance. 

The precious mitre continues these same themes, suggesting that this chasuble would likely have also been accompanied by a matching cope, dalmatics and tunicle. 
The same can be said of the chalice veil, which includes a particularly beautiful image of the Holy Spirit, surrounded by rays of light emanating from behind. 

Finally, we present the stole, maniple and burse of the set, which continues with more of the same.
This set is extremely tasteful in my estimation. Elegant, noble, beautiful and, in its own way, characterized by the sort of simplicity that comes with well-crafted, restrained design; a design that is neither made gaudy by virtue being overdone, nor one which suffers from the needless constraints of minimalism or lower quality textiles.

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