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Tristan Hanging

The Tristan hanging, 14th century, North Germany. The Tristan hanging, 14th century, North Germany. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, acc. no. 1370-1864.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an (incomplete) appliqué wall hanging, popularly known as the Tristan hanging. It originates from North Germany and was made in the late fourteenth century.  It is 109 cm high and 256.5 cm long. It is a dark blue, woollen cloth with appliqués of woollen fragments. It contains 22 scenes from the medieval Tristan and Iseuld (Isolde) legend.

The edges between the various scenes are reinforced with gilded leather, imitating gold thread embroidery. This technique, according to the V&A catalogue, is also known from contemporary Scandinavian pieces.

The use of appliqué to quickly decorate a piece of cloth and/or present scenes from a particular story was wide-spread in medieval Europe, and often known as opus consutum. The technique was particularly popular before the wide-spread introduction of large tapestry-woven wall hangings. The technique may be compared with the appliqués made to this very day in the Street of the Tentmakers in Cairo, Egypt.

See also the entry on the Sicilian Tristan quilt and the entry on the Tristan embroideries.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 20 December 2016).

WV

Last modified on Monday, 02 January 2017 17:44