Cope (Ecclesiastical Cape)
late 15th century - 1530s
135.9 cm x 278.8 cm (53 1/2 in. x 109 3/4 in.)
Medium and Support:
Velvet and silk embroidery
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Vivian Merrin, 1982
Copes were worn by Catholic bishops and priests during religious processions. Decorated with embroidery, copes often had orphreys, or ornamental borders, that depicted scenes from the lives of holy figures. This work features an orphrey that represents seven popular episodes from Christ’s Passion, such as the Agony in the Garden, Kiss of Judas, Flagellation, Crowning of Thorns, Mocking, Road to Calvary, and finally the Crucifixion. In the lower part of the Crucifixion panel is a coat of arms that suggests this ecclesiastical garment probably belonged to a member of a Flemish family. The pattern and quality of the velvet, on the other hand, points to an Italian origin. It is likely that the orphrey and the velvet were sewn together in the twentieth century.