(active 1490-1505 in Brussels)

The Holy Family

Wool, silk and silver tapestry, 125 x 135 cm
Musei Vaticani, Vatican

This tapestry may have been conceived as an altarpiece for a small chapel. Stylistically it belongs to a group of devotional tapestries woven in Brussels between 1490 and 1505.

A blessing angel and the Holy Family stand out against the rich, brocaded draperies in the sumptuous background of this tapestry. A dossal can be seen at the back, and numerous bystanders observe the scene from behind two columned parapets flanking the sides of the tapestry.

The Virgin Mary is seated on the ground, following the iconographic tradition of the Madonna of Humility. The holy child is in her lap, holding a rattle in his right hand and extending his left hand toward a piece of fruit offered to him by Saint Joseph. The scene is framed on the sides by two Gothic columns, which are encrusted with precious stones and pearls and decorated with a cornflower motif, while the outer border has a simple but exquisite motif of entwining red roses.