ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History   /  book reviews, articles

  Liturgische Gewänder und andere Paramente im Dom zu Brandenburg, Hg. Helmut Reihlen, Regensburg - Riggisberg 2005, texts by: Uta-Christiane Bergemann, Marina Flügge, Kristina Hegner, Ina Hoffmann, Christa-Maria Jeitner, Dietrich Kurze, Ilona May, Iris May, Reingard Neumann, Karel Otavsky, Inga Scharf da Silva, Evelin Wetter; 495 pages, lavishly illustrated with 267 colour photos and 89 bw photos, in German, Euro 148 + postage, SFr. 245.-+ postage. (weight: 2769 g)
ISBN 3-7954-1684-1 (Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg), 3-905014-26-2 (Abegg-Stiftung, Riggisberg)

Schnell and Steiner:
and also Abeggstiftung:

Textile specialists were commissioned to publish this inventory of medieval vestments in the cathedral of Brandenburg. The oldest vestments are going back to the 12th or even 11th century. The preserved chasubles of 13 - 15 c. show the tradition of medieval textile production, but there are also more recent fabrics up to the 20th c.
Christa Maria Jeitner and Evelin Wetter, together with a team of competent co-specialists have created this splendid, lavishly illustrated publication. Introductory words are given by: Bishop Dr. Wolfgang Huber; Dr Regula Schorta, Abegg foundation Riggisberg; Prof.Dr.Ing. Helmut Reihlen, Curator of the Cathedral Brandenburg.



The first part of the book:
Comments on the historic development and general remarks about the vestments
  Important events concerning the vestments and the cathedral:
- A first inventory was compiled by Ernst von Borgsdorf (1576-1583).
His inventory notes were stitched into the inner part of trunks and closet doors.
- In 1656, after the 30years war, the inventory was taken over into the register of succession.
- There is no inventory in the 18th c. In the years of 1820 and 1827 some reliques were added.
- In the 19th c. the cathedral was restored by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and newly consecrated in 1836. The crown princess Elisabeth, together with other court princesses donated the antependium of the main altar.
- In 1853 Franz Bock visited the cathedral.
- In 1875 priest Ernst Wernicke established a clear and systematic inventory of the vestments.
- In 1962 the institut of preservation of monuments continued provisions of preservation.
- Since 1963 Freifrau Helene Ebner von Eschenbach took care of the vestments.
- In 1965 the veil in use for the Season of Lent was restored in Krefeld.
- In 1972 Christa Maria Jeitner followed as a curator.
- In 1999 Mrs Jeitner was commissioned to work on the inventory, together with Evelin Wetter (embroideries), Karel Otavsky (old fabrics), Uta-Christiane Bergemann (contribution to embroideries of 17th to 19th centuries), Ilona May (restaurer), Iris May (drawings and cuts).

In an introductory chapter by Dietrich Kunze

gives a survey on the historic development of the bishops, of the cathedral and of the secular reign in the March of Brandenburg:
The cathedral was the seat of the bishop since 948, first document is dated from first of October 949. In the 12th c. the institution passed over to the order of Premonte which came in 1129 from Prémonté (France) to Brandenburg.
The Counts of the March of Brandenburg belonged to the families of Wittelsbach, of Luxemburg and of Hohenzollern. Frederic the second of Hohenzollern founded the Order of the Swan in the 15th century. In 1539 the Reformation was introduced, in 1571 new regulations show the protestant character of the chapter. Reformation did not cause much alterations, the vestments were continued to be worn, the veil for the Season of Lent was furthermore used. Changements in customs were not wanted.
After the end of monarchy in 1919 the chapter house fell onto the prussian government of state. In 1930 it became an independent foundation. After the end of world war II, the foundation became part of the ecclesiastical administration.
  Still in the introductory part Christa Maria Jeitner deals with the historic development of the cathedral's textiles.

In the treasury there are the vestments made for and used in the cathedral. Later the vestments of Ziesar and of St. Mary on the hill were added. Since 1970 there are some more deposits here.

From early development only few textiles are preserved, as for instance some pieces of a green and gold fabric of 13th c. and the veil used during the Season of Lent of 1290 in whitework embroidery.
Inventories only exist from the time after reformation.

  Together with Karel Otavsky and Ilona May, Christa Maria Jeitner gives general explanations about the luxury fabrics and their technical and historic development.

The old "Samitum" technique is being compared to the so called "Lampas", which as a term was neither used in medieval times nor in the 18th century. The Diasper of Lucca, Brocates, Velvets, fabrics with pomegranates are explained, as well as some more simple fabrics.
New research show, that the printed chasubles are no longer supposed to be worn at the times of Black Death. Materials and decoration have to be seen as variation of italian silks. Linen, fustian, wool, were used in winter and rather should be considered as appropriate materials than as cheaper ones.


Detail of veil used during the Season of Lent,
embroidery around 1290, Inv.Nr. 4


Detail of veil used during the Season of Lent,
embroidery around 1290, Inv.Nr. 4



  One of the oldest items of the inventory is the veil used during the Season of Lent, of 1290. There are 33 roundels: 8 in each of 4 rows, with a diameter of 48 centimetres, and a larger central one. The embroidery yarns are white linen and lightly colored silk. The motives were painted with a pen and with ink. At least 5 different embroiderers worked on the scenes of the life of Christ.

Detail from front of Cope
Saint Dorothy, embroidery around
1430/1440, Inv.Nr. 8

Detail from Cappa (Cope),
embroidery probably Brandenburg, around 1430/1440,
on italian fabric, last third 14th century, Inv.Nr. 8


Detail of Cope, front, Saint Cecilia,
embroidery probably Brandenburg, 1414/1415,
Inv.Nr. 13

Detail of Cope, front, Saint Bartolomew,
embroidery probably Brandenburg, 1415/1417,
Inv.Nr. 13

  Evelin Wetter already researched on bohemian embroideries in her thesis. In the publication here in question she mostly deals with the embroideries of the 15th century.
An important theme in this field is the question of design: The design for the veil, which was used during the Season of Lent, is attributed to a miniaturist painter. Another group of the first half of 14th century could have been designed by boheminan painters who emigrated to Brandenburg at the time when the bohemian house of the Luxemburg ruled Brandenburg. Emperor Charles 4th celebrated easter on April 2nd 1374 in the Cathedral and it is possible that he made some foundations at this occasion.
Characteristic of these embroideries is the technique of split stitch and a special way of couching in the architectural elements

Evelin Wetter distinguishes three different kinds of embroidery design according to the chronological development:

  - the earliest way to design embroidery motives probably was by painting directly onto the fabric. This could have been done by professional painters but was also possible by the embroiderers themselves.
- from special groups like Saints, Apostles, St. Anne with mother and child and other themes, a great number of patterns could have been drawn on transparent paper. These pattern were perforated with small holes, and then laid on the textile. Dust of coal was pressed through the holes. A certain mass production and distribution over great parts of central Europe in consequence was possible with this method.
- Design also were distributed by prints. Medieval workshops could have owned sample books or collections of such prints. It is not clear however in which way the design was copied onto the fabric. Preserved embroideries often do not have the same measurements as the printed pattern.

Case for Corporals, pearls and embroidery
in gold and silk, Low Saxony/Francony,
around 1420/1430, Inv.Nr. 16


Part of linencloth with embroidery,
in linen and coloured wool, mid 15th century,
Inv.Nr. 20

Detail of embroidery,
in linen and coloured wool, mid 15th century,
Inv.Nr. 20

  Important finds in Brandenburg were maculature papers used to reinforce embroidered parts of the vestments. At the occasion of restauration some of them came to light:
- letters of the embroiderer Johann Goldfuss of Salzburg give some information about the way of working, about social circumstances, about payments to embroiderers.
- Some other maculature papers seem to have been used as designs for ornamented fabrics represented in the backgrounds of medieval paintings. Evelin Wetter believes, that embroiderers and painters sometimes worked together very closely. She gives as an example Michael Wohlgemut of Nuremberg, who had close relations to the embroiderer family Ehrenfelder. Family relations could have been a reason to exchange old materials.
- In a separate chapter Christa Maria Jeitner publishes the transcription of a special find of medieval maculature papers. Some of these fragments of an account book can be dated 1452 and 1453.
  - Christa Maria Jeitner also writes about the development of the vestment's cuts. The inventory of Brandenburg cathedral makes it possible to follow this development over several centuries. She deals with copes, chasubles, dalmatics, Albs, stoles and coats of the priest. In the second half of 16th c. there are almost no new forms in Brandenburg, the old chasubles were rather remade.

- Ilona and Iris May conclude the introductory part of the book with 20 pages drawings of different cuts of vestments.



The second part of the book: inventory part:
With descriptions of several places from where textiles were transformed to the Brandenburg cathedral.
Examination and research of the vestments of the Order of the Swan,
and examination and research of the antependium of 1835.
  The inventory is devided into 7 chapters in which the 78 pieces are described accurately. These textiles are grouped chronologically:
- textiles from 11th/12th centuries until the early 16th century (Inv. Nrs 1-39).
One of the oldest items is the veil used during the Season of Lent of 1290.
Some other items were added to the inventory of Brandenburg cathedral.
- textiles from St. Mary on the hill, especially the chasuble of the Order of the Swan (Inv. Nrs 40- 43).
- textiles from the bishop's residence at Ziesar according to inventary lists of 1546 and 1552 (Inv. Nrs 44-48).
- additions to the cathedral after reformation from 16th to 20th century (Inv. Nrs 49-59).
- deposits from church St. Gotthardt from the old town in Brandenburg (Inv. Nrs. 60-64).
- depositis from the cathedral in Havelberg (Inv. Nrs 65-67).
- deposits from several churches (Inv. Nrs 68-78).
  St. Mary on the Hill (Inv.Nrs 40-43)
The church was built in the middle of the 12th century and in the 14th century there was an important pilgrimate to the image of St. Mary. In 1440 a noble society was founded, the Order of St. Mary to the Swan.
After reformation the Order was dissolved and in 1551 the vestments came to the cathedral of Brandenburg. The stone materials of the church later on was reaplied by degrees for new constructions and the ruins were pulled down for good in 1722.

The three vestments are the last testimonies of the old chapel of the Order of the Swan. Their size is particularly small. The fabbric has been used before in secular sphere and here it is alterated for second application in the church.

Chasuble of the Order of the Swan, fabbric Italy
around 1440, embroidery, Nuremberg 1471
with applied coat of arms of Frederic the second
(Inv.Nr 40)


Two details of the Chain of the Order of the Swan
with the symbol of the swan, in gold embroidery


  Chapel of Castle of Ziesar (Inv.No 40-48)
The castle was used since 1336 as bishop's residence. It was alterated in the middle of the 15th c. and in 1470 a chappel was added.
In 1546 and in 1552 Bishop Joachim von Münsterberg (1545-1560) gave over a number of objects from Ziesar to the cathedral of Brandenburg. Unfortunatelay only very few from the listed objects can be identified today and a great deal of them are lost.

Detail of embroidered cross of Chasuble, fabbric Italy
beginning 16th c., embroidery Brandenburg (?)
around 1500 (Inv.Nr 45).

  The cathedral after transformation and Reformation
In 1506
the cathedral was changed into a secular collegiate church. There were 16 "majores" and others, called "minores". Whereas the first lived by benefice and other prebendaries, the minores did not receive any payments. A Dean was the head of the canons.
In 1539 the reformation was introduced. Vestments did not change and were used as before.
In 1809 the collegiate church was suspended, but in 1822/26 it was rehabilitated by the king. It now served as prebend for politicians and officers. In the course of a renovation in the first half of the 19th c. new works of art were ordered and new foundations enlarged the inventory.

Uta-Christiane Bergemann deals with the embroideries of 17 to 19th century. Her contributions are to be found in the inventory catalogue, together with the research of objects. She analysed a number of the deposited vestments like: chalice veils Nrs 53, 54, 55, 74, a cushion Nr. 56, purses Nrs 58, 75, 76 as well as objects Nrs 70, 71, 72, 73.
Her main research being the examination of the antependium Nr. 57, for the Brandenburg cathedral.

The royal princesses donated the antependium which had been designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and worked by C.F.W. Roehrich in 1835/36.


Front panel of antependium with historistic ornaments, as used in the 16th c.
Prototype can be found in the "Disputà, stanza della segnatura",
in the Vatican (by Raffaelo in 1508-1511). Inv.Nr. 57.


Coat of arms at the time of
Friedrich Wilhelm III (1797-1840). Inv.Nr. 57.

Right side panel : Coat of arms showing alliances of Prussian daughters with noble european families
Alliance with Russia:
Charlotte as Alexandra Feodorowna married to Nicola I of Russia
Alliance with Netherlands: Wilhelmine married to Wiliam I of Netherlands and Luise married to Prince Fredric ,
Coat of arms of Bavaria
, from Elizabeth spouse of crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm IV,
Alliance with Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Alexandrine married to Paul Friedrich grand duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin


Left side panel: Coat of arms of spouses of Prussian sons
Saxony-Weimar: Augusta and Alexandrine of Saxony-Weimar married to Wilhelm and to Carl of Prussia
Hessen: Marie Anne Amalie from Hessen-Homburg married to the king's brother
Netherlands: Marianne Princess of Netherlands married to Albrecht of Prussia

home  content Last revised April 6, 2005

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