Saturday, February 12, 2011

Botticelli in the Lombard Collections - Poldi Pezzoli Museum

If you are anywhere near Milan before the end of this month and want to see some fantastic goldwork embroidery from 15th century Florence when it was at its height of splendor, you should head off to the Poldi Pezzoli Museum.

There you will find the hood of a cope executed from a cartoon by Botticelli (c.1480s) as part of a collection of liturgical vestments commissioned most probably by King John II of Portugal. The Portugese ambassador to Florence at the time, Cardinal James of Lusitania died in Florence in 1459 and was buried at the San Miniato al Monte Basilica of Florence. Great expense went into building and decorating the Chapel for the Cardinal and some of Florence's leading artists at the time contributed to the artwork and its construction.

The hood of this cope is done in silk shaded goldwork embroidery. Florence was well known for excellency in this technique as I told you about previously. The design is the Coronation of the Virgin. Information on it from the museum says " absolutely the most beautiful embroidery that has been handed down to us executed on the design of the artist."

Check out the details on the folds of this angel's robe (click on the photos for a closer look):

And the pattern designs on this architectural representation:

More exquisite details:

The exhibit: Botticelli in the Lombard Collections is to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist's death in 1510 and has been on display since this past November.

Photos courtesy of the Poldi Pezzoli Museum and are subject to copyright. They can be downloaded from the Museum's website and used only to promote the exhibit.

Thanks to Linda for making me look! 

This exhibit has been extended until the 25th of March, 2011!


  1. Thanks for the informative post, Jeanine. I had a lovely time looking at copes - some in goldwork - at the V&A this week, but my favourite thing was a linen quilt where the story of Tristan and Iseult (as I remember) was done with quilting only, including lettering. Extraordinary! Anyway, although this cope designed by Botticelli could well have been for John II, it would have been much later than 1459, when Botticelli was about 13 and only just beginning his apprenticeship.

  2. The cope was done in the 1480s (see second paragraph above) I think the Chapel that was built for Cardinal James of Lusitania was only started after he died (1459). Sorry if what I wrote above was confusing!

  3. For the other part of the Tristan quilt kept in Florence, see the posts under "Guicciardini Trapunto"

  4. Nice collection! I'm always amazed how they made such a beautiful art in the 15th century. Keep up the good work, Marjan (Netherlands)