National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Artistic Exchange: Europe and the Islamic World

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Nardo di Cione
Florentine, active 1343 - 1365/1366
Madonna and Child with Saint Peter and Saint John the Evangelist
probably c. 1360, tempera on panel
left panel: 49.1 x 15.3 cm
middle panel: 76.7 x 34.9 cm
right panel: 49.1 x 16.2 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Image: Nardo di Cione
Madonna and Child with Saint Peter and Saint John the Evangelist, probably c. 1360
Samuel H. Kress Collection

The patterned textiles in Nardo's small altarpiece, an object intended to aid private devotion, are described in minute detail. The Madonna and both saints wear fictive Italian versions of Islamic tiraz garments with narrow bands of pseudo-Arabic. The child's stole and the floor cloths on which the saints stand resemble luxurious silks recently imported from the Mongol Empire, called "Tartar cloths" in Italy. These Central Asian and Persian fabrics were of unparalleled richness, lavishly using gold-wrapped threads. Both the Chinese peony blossoms on the stole and the Asian palmettes on the floor covering would have been woven in gold. "Tartar" imports strongly influenced Italian silks during the second half of the fourteenth century.

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