Exhibition | Opulent Fashion in the Church

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 18, 2016


Opulent Fashion in the Church
The Cleveland Museum of Art, 24 September 2016 — 24 September 2017


Chasuble, early eighteenth century, Genoa, silk, gilt-metal thread: velvet, cut and uncut, 106 × 68 cm (The Cleveland Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Wade, 1916.1443.1).

Throughout history, precious works of art have been used in worship. Radiant textiles—cherished symbols of the majesty of God as well as the wealth and power of the Catholic Church—embellished the high altar and clothed the clergy. Quality was expensive. Lustrous silk thread dyed vibrant colors was transformed into luxury textiles by skilled designers, weavers, and embroiderers. One of the most beautiful and important vestments is the chasuble, the outer garment worn for the Catholic Mass. By the 1700s, its original full shape, influenced by fashion, acquired a fiddle-shaped front to facilitate arm movement and a straight-sided back. It was worn over a long white garment called an alb, enriched with the most costly material: lace.

As part of the museum’s centennial celebration, this exhibition honors Mr. and Mrs. Jeptha H. Wade II, the museum’s visionary co-founder and president, who in 1916 donated most of these European vestments of the 1600s and 1700s with regalia from a matching set. The Cleveland Museum of Art is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this exhibition with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.



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