Butler-Bowdon Cope

The Butler-Bowdon cope, first half 14th century. Opus Anglicanum. The Butler-Bowdon cope, first half 14th century. Opus Anglicanum. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. T.36-1955.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, houses a medieval cope, traditionally called the Butler-Bowdon cope, which dates to the first half of the fourteenth century. The cope is a prime example of opus anglicanum. It measures 165.5 by 34.5 cm.

The silk velvet ground material of the cope (perhaps of Italian origin) is embroidered with silver-gilt, silver thread and multi-coloured silk thread, using French knotsunderside couching, satin stitch and split stitch. There is also couching and raised work. The cope was furthermore adorned with beads, metal rings and pearls. The orphreys are embroidered on linen.

The scenes and figures embroidered onto the cloth are contained in ogee arches and lined in concentric circles, in order to run parallel to the hem of the garment. The embroideries show the Life of the Virgin, angels and apostles, with crouching lions, birds, and lion masks. Two saints embroidered onto the garment should be mentioned, namely St Edmund of Bury, and St Edward the Confessor (carrying a model of Westminster Abbey).

The vestment was included in the exhibition on opus anglicanum at the Victoria and Albert Museum, October 2016 - February 2017, and has been described as the companion garment to the so-called Chichester-Constable chasuble, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Source: BROWNE, Clare, Glyn DAVIES, and M.A. MICHAEL (2016). English Medieval Embroidery: Opus Anglicanum, exhibition catalogue, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, Catalogue no. 52, pp. 213-216.

V&A online category (retrieved 29 October 2016).


Last modified on Friday, 03 March 2017 12:28