27 February 2008

Global Seminars & Invited Speaker Series


Embroidery and sacred vestments in Navarre

Dr. Alicia Andueza Pérez

The art of embroidery, as has been the case in Spain as a whole, has been a field in the history of Navarrese art that has not received much attention until recently. For this reason, it is an activity that is unknown to most scholars and the general public, as is the case with one of its main manifestations, sacred vestments. These, which we can define as the liturgical vestments worn by priests and the different hierarchies of the church during celebrations, and by extension, the textile pieces used to decorate the altar and the church, must be studied from their function, as elements of the liturgy, and also from their form, as works of art that reflect in their decoration, by means of different techniques and noble materials, the different artistic forms and trends. They are also a very rich artistic heritage, largely unknown at a general level, and for various reasons, such as the little attention this activity has received, the fragility of the material or the loss of its use and function in recent decades, it has been the object of very important losses and is in many cases in a state of deterioration and status withdrawal .

Scene of the Annunciation

Scene of the Annunciation. Detail of the robe of San Saturnino, Pamplona.

development This art had an important presence in Navarre from the 16th century onwards, especially after the Council of Trent, and during the first half of the 17th century. During this period, the Pamplona workshop was the centre of activity and the focus of the most important embroiderers. Afterwards, from the mid-17th century onwards, official document began to show signs of decline, which became more evident towards the end of the century and throughout the 18th century, a period in which, in the absence of Navarrese craftsmen, foreign contributions and the importation of works from leading textile centres such as Zaragoza and Toledo became the main protagonists.

Neapolitan frontispiece from the convent of the Augustinian Recollect Nuns in Pamplona.

Neapolitan frontispiece from the convent of the Augustinian Recollect Nuns in Pamplona.

During these centuries, the more than one hundred and forty embroiderers, both local and foreign, located in Navarre, were mainly involved in making sacred vestments. Today, the churches of Navarre still conserve some examples of great value and quality that are a testimony and a reminder of those that once made up the sacristies of the different parishes. Examples include two of the most important textile collections, those of the parish of Santa María de Viana and Pamplona Cathedral; or some particularly important works, such as the terno of San Saturnino from the parish of the same name in Pamplona or the Neapolitan frontal of the Immaculate Conception belonging to the convent of the Augustinian Recollect Nuns in Pamplona.

Chasuble. Parish Church of Santa María de Viana.

Chasuble. Parish Church of Santa María de Viana.