Sunday 15 May 2011

Embroidered Altarpiece of 1522 by Hans Plock

Hans Plock was a religious man of his time. We know that in his youth he obtained a print by Martin Schongauer entitled Death of the Virgin. Hans Plonk stated: This image was judged in my youth to be the finest work to have come out of Germany, therefore I pasted it in my bible. A committed act at the time that was irrevocable and expensive. Born in 1490, Hans developed his artistic sensibilities with needle and thread - and pearls. For a time he was Pearl Embroiderer to Albrecht, Cardinal of Brandenburg and Master Embroiderer at the Court of the Archbishop of of Halle. Around 1522 he was commissioned by the Archbishop of Mainz to create the outstanding embroidered triptych, known as the Hassentstein Altarpiece, which is now to be admired in Nelahozeves Castle (about 35 km north of Prague). Against a background of precious metal threads encrusted with semi-precious stones and pearls, raised embroidered figures are set in dioramas. In the outer wings can be seen the Angle Gabriel descending with his special message for Mary, while she is at her devotions. Although this altar piece is normally pictured with the Angel Gabriel to the left as was the decorum at the time, the German narratives are back to front - so I have flipped the image to have the text reading in the right direction. It is interesting to lovers of early samplers that all the Ns are reversed!

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