A mitre from the Treasure of Oignies exhibited at the V&A London

1st of December 2016

Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery is an exhibition of masterpieces of English embroidery from the 12th to 15th centuries, a period when England was internationally famous for the quality of its luxury embroidery, often designated under the term Opus Anglicanum.

The curators of this exhibition have brought together the most significant pieces of embroidery from around the world, setting them within their artistic, cultural and religious contexts. Each of the pieces exhibited is not only of exceptional quality, but also has its own specificities in terms of its theme, iconography or the technique used to create it. The exhibition also highlights the relationships that developed between the craftspeople who created the pieces and those who commissioned them.

A masterpiece of the exhibition

Like kings and queens, as well as cardinals, Jacques de Vitry commissioned his bishop’s mitre to be made in England. The scene on the mitre depicts the martyrdom of Thomas Becket and is part of an important collection of 13th century embroidery intended to spread the cult of the martyr.

Embroidered with gold thread, the mitre takes centre stage in the introductory room of the exhibition, where it is exhibited alongside works from Sens Cathedral.

This mitre is part of the Treasure of Oignies, dating from the 13th century, which was entrusted to the King Baudouin Foundation by the Sisters of Notre-Dame in 2010. The Treasure comprises some fifty pieces, mainly religious silverwork, created in the workshop of Brother Hugo, as well as pieces bequeathed by Jacques de Vitry. As Bishop of Saint John of Acre, he was in effect the principal patron of the religious community of Oignies. Today, the Treasure of Oignies is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of Belgium.

Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery: to discover until 5th February 2017, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.