This antependium – decorative altar hanging – dating to the early 16th century was severely damaged by the bomb that exploded in Via dei Georgofili in 1993.
The “network” pattern of the fabric was widely used in sixteenth-century Florence both for church and civil furnishings. We believe that the pattern was created at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and that applying it to velvet offered a perfect combination of tradition and innovation. The thistle flower, a dominant motif in fifteenth century textiles and the “network” arrangement were also well-known and successful, while the alternating triangles and squares, along with the ciselé velvet that creates original visual effects are the most innovative features of this type of cloth. The geometric components on the background and the lance-shaped leaves are typical of many sixteenth-century fabrics, and in this antependium are enhanced by the use of a new technique. The sixteenth century witnessed the birth and success of ciselé velvet: the combination of cut and uncut areas creates luminous effects and plays of chiaroscuro on the monochrome surface. The different heights of the pile, created by the loops and some tufts along with the contrast with the emptied background areas create effects that give the fabric the look of a bas-relief.