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Ladder, Purse of Judas, Cock of Peter

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England Unknown,
Ladder, Purse of Judas, Cock of Peter, n.d.
Silk on canvas
25 7/8 x 6 in. (65.72 x 15.24 cm)


Object Type: Textile
Technique: Weaving
Creation Place: Europe
Credit Line: Gift of C. Jane Hurley Wilson and Michael G. Wilson
Accession Number: 2013.17.1


Commentary
The arrangement of the embroidered motifs is organized in the manner of a Classical architectural pilaster, with a succession of symbolic motifs evoking the Crucifixion story, presented in a vertical band that is framed right and left by floral borders. Each border consists of a repeating pattern of opposed pairs of leafy meanders punctuated by a small five-petaled flower blossom at each crossing point. The spiky meandering leaf forms resemble Ottoman Turkish “saz” leaves. In the primary center panel, each symbolic motif is depicted as hanging pendant on a looped bow ribbon tied to a round, shaded ring that encircles a small roundel representing a wall peg. The topmost ring is embellished with an ornamental fan or shell-shaped cresting. From the top, the motifs are the Cock of St. Peter, seen in right profile and representing Peter’s betrayal of Jesus; a crossed pair of plate armor gauntlets, representing the soldiers who arrested Jesus and carried out His death sentence; a red bag representing the money bag carried by Judas and the price paid to him for identifying Jesus to the arresting soldiers; and a fragmentary composite emblem with elements of the Crucifixion itself, including the Spear, the Ladder and the Sponge on a reed, dripping liquid. The lower portion of this emblem is cut off.
The methods, materials and style of imagery expressed in this embroidery are all consistent with an attribution to English production during the mid to late 16th Century. This supports the assertion of the inscription written in 1961 that associates the embroidery with the reign of Elizabeth I. The appraiser sees no reason to doubt the claim to prior ownership by Gwendolyn Fitzalan-Howard, Duchess of Norfolk, and by her daughter, Lady Rachel Fitzalan-Howard Davidson Pepys.
Williams S. Chandler
Chandler Art Consulting Services

Marks
An old handwritten ink inscription on the back of the Masonite mount panel reads, “Ladder / Purse of Judas / Cock of Peter, Etc / Came from Kinhavie [sic: Kinharvie] / Given by Lady Rachel / Davidson (née Howard, sister of 16th Duke of Norfolk. / Probably worked in / reign of Elizabeth I. / Left to Peregrine / Clifton.” A second ink inscription, written on paper and glued to the mount, appears to be an older version of the same legend, and includes some additional information. “Ladder & Purse of Judas / Cock of Peter, Etc / Came from / Kinhavie [sic: Kinharvie] home of Gwen, Duchess / of Norfolk. Given me by her daughter / Lady Rachel Davidson / sister of 16th Duke of Norfolk. / Probably worked in reign of / Elizabeth First. / For Peregrine / Clifton / July / -- 1961.” (No plausible identification of Peregrine Clifton has been found, and the identity of the writer is unknown.)

William S. Chandler
Chandler Art Consulting Services

Medium
A portion of an embroidered band of silk flosses and silver foil wrapped silk threads worked on handspun and handwoven linen canvas. The single ply linen warps and wefts are both spun with a Z-twist and woven in a balanced plainweave, with a warp and weft density of approximately 24 ends per inch in each direction. There are no extant selvedges. The cut ends have been turned under and sewn with a similar handspun brown linen thread of two-ply S-twist. The thrown silk flosses (i.e. unreeled from the cocoons, not spun) are also lightly S-twisted. The silver foil thread is comprised of very narrow strips of real silver foil tightly wrapped around a white silk core that is also lightly S-twisted. The pictorial design on the linen canvas has been worked in mostly brightly colored silk flosses with simple “canvas work” stitches. The background between the motifs has been solidly worked with the silver foil thread in parallel vertical lines of stem stitches that wrap around individual warps. The lines of silver stem stitches are worked in alternating lines of S and Z stitches, the pairs of which form a herringbone background texture.
Williams S. Chandler
Chandler Art Consulting Services, Inc.

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