The beautiful embroidery work bespeaks the expertise and quality of materials used in early 18th century italian convent work. This panel originates from a french religious collection in paris and dates towards 1730. It would have been originally used as a decorative altar panel within the catholic church.
Layered linen (on the back) and rich crimson silk velvet serve as a sturdy and luxurious canvas for the gilt metal work embroidery. This type of embroidery would have been done within a monastery or convent by highly skilled brethren or sisters. The center portrait depicts saint james. Rich blue, orange, green and yellow silks combine with gilt metallic braid to paint a picture of the saint the embroidery on his face has worn away with time.
You can still however see the eyes, nose and mouth detail. A wide "basketweave" gilt metallic circular border serves as a frame for the portrait.
Arabesques form leaves and flowers on either side, worked in gilt metallic embroidery (basketwork stitch). The thickness of the stitching and thread raise these design above the velvet. A 1 1/2 wide textured gilt metallic border is hand stitched around all edges.It is in very good condition in consideration to the age: the velvet has worn to backing in small places throughout which is typical with silk velvet of very advanced age. There is missing bits of embroidery to the portrait but the image is still recognizable. The panel is solid; you can see the secure embroidery threads on the back. It is a sumptuous textile with a breathtaking amount of metalwork embroidery.