The Wonder of Embroidery
Medievalist Dan Jones goes in search of surviving works from the great age of English embroidery, some of which survived the destruction of art during the Reformation.
The Reformation in England witnessed the destruction of the most brilliant art of the medieval age. Church paintings and stained glass - even sculpture - were destroyed throughout England in the name of religion. And yet one art survived against the odds - the art of medieval embroidery.
Portable and easily squirrelled away, English embroidery was spirited out of the country in the 16th century and many brilliant examples survive today - if slightly unappreciated and forgotten in Italian churches and museums, even the Vatican. And yet it is an art form that rivalled the very finest in medieval painting or stained glass and for 200 years was the finest embroidery in the western world. Known simply as Opus Anglicanum (English work), the work of English embroiders was desired by kings and popes throughout Christendom.
Dan Jones, Plantagenet expert and medievalist, goes in search of these fragile yet stunning survivors from the great age of embroidery - encountering a world of finery, bejewelled luxury and sacred beauty on an undreamt-of scale.
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