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Swiss Tapestry

YOU ARE IN: Art and Design; Costume and Textiles; European Textiles; European Tapestry Swiss Tapestry

Glasgow Museums has a collection of 15 Swiss tapestries which date broadly from the early 15th century to the early 16th century.

This collection is extremely varied with the tapestries generally small in scale and some of them represented by fragments only. They depict both secular and religious subjects and almost all of them include scrolls containing explanatory 'captions' written in gothic script. One example illustrating a 'typically Swiss' stylistic form shows figure groups depicted against backgrounds modelled to resemble fabrics with an all-over pattern of plant, or other naturally-inspired motifs. Three of the religiously-themed tapestries in this group are woven in the horizontal format particularly associated with altar frontals. One fine example of such an altar frontal depicts 'Four Scenes from the Life of the Virgin Mary'. Another very characteristic type of Swiss tapestry relates directly to contemporary religious or social contexts. Two examples of wall-hangings, 'The Bustling Housewife' and 'The Dishonest Miller', are based on literary and/or print sources popular at the time, while 'A Fox preaching to the Geese' is a thinly-disguised allegory which served to criticize contemporary Catholicism.