The Malterer Hanging

Samson defeats the Lion

Background

The Malterer Hanging is a long, narrow wall hanging. It was produced in the Germanic states in 1310-1320. It is contructed on a linen ground, using coloured wools, worked in Kloster Stitch (convent stitch) and stem stitch.

As with many embroidery works of this period it deals with a religious topic, in this case the evils of earthly love.

Materials Used

  • Linen ground
  • coloured wool thread (blue,yellow, green, rust light brown, white)

Stitches and Techniques

The piece is worked in Kloster stitch, a form of couching work. The design is outlined in stem stitch. This technique allows large areas of ground to be covered quickly and completely.

Design

The hanging is a long, narrow band, approx. 68cm x 490cm (2'3" high by 16'1" long). There are a series of quatrafoil panels, each one housing a famous scene illustrating the overall theme of the evils of earthly love. These include Samson and Delilah, Aristotle and Phyllis, Virgil and the daughter of the Emperor Augustus, Iwein and Laudine. The final scene, of a Virgin and a Unicorn (einhorn), sybolise Christian love and charity. The first and last panel contain the arms of the Malterer Family, who gave the hanging to the Convent of St Catherine at Freiburg i. Breisgau, where Anna Malterer was a nun.

Images of Extant Piece

Sources for Further Information

  • Staniland, Kay. "Medieval Craftsmen: Embroiderers", (London: British Museum Press, 1991)
  • Clabburn, Pamela. "Masterpieces of Embroidery", (Oxford: Phaidon Press, 1981)

Malterer Hanging on wall at Augustinermuseum, Freiburg

Malterer Hanging on wall at Augustinermuseum, Freiburg, Germany