This embroidery, which originally may have been as long as fourteen feet, is one end of a cover for a church lectern. White-on-white embroideries of this type, traditionally done by nuns, are associated with Westphalian workshops in the Gothic period. The friezelike border depicts an episode from the life of Saint Giles who, according to legend, lived as a hermit in a cave near the Rhone River in France. When a deer pursued by a royal hunting party sought shelter with Giles, the saint was accidentally wounded by an arrow. He refused medical attention but was miraculously healed, inspiring the king to found a monastery on the spot. The embroidery depicts the saint in his cave at the left as the king and bishop, both on horseback, approach from the right with the hunters.
Artist German
  • Lectern Cover
Date 14th century
Medium linen embroidery on plain weave linen in three stitches; German interlacing, plaited braid and chain stitch
Dimensions Overall: 27 1/4 × 49 1/8 inches (69.2 × 124.8 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund with a contribution from the David L. Klein, Jr. Memorial Foundation.
Accession Number 1989.47
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
Not On View
Hillemeyer collection (Paderborn, Germany);
European art market (Europe).
(Galerie Ruf, Rastatt, Germany);
1989-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
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Ludorff, A. Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler von Westfalen (Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler des Kreises Paderborn). Munster, 1899, p. 140, pl. 110.

Grabke, H.A. "Eine westfalische Gruppe gestickter Leinen- decken des Mittelalters," Westfalen 23, no. 3, 1938, pp. 179-194, pl. 38-46.

Einhorn, J. W. "Ein jungst aufgefundenes Fragment der Soester Lesepult-Decke im Victoria and Albert Museum London," Zeitschrift fur Kunstgeschichrw 34, no. 1, 1971, pp. 47-58.

Einhorn, J. W. Munsterische Mittelalter-Schriften 13: Spiritalis unicornis. Das Einhorn als Bedeutungsträger in. Literatur und Kunst des Mittelalters. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1976, p. 354.

Bulletin of the DIA 65, no. 2/3, 1989, p. 24, fig. 20, (ill).

"Selected recent acquisitions," Bulletin of the DIA 65, no. 4, 1990, p. 56, (ill).

Barnet, P. Clothed in Majesty: European Ecclesiastical Textiles from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1991, no. 3, p. 17; no. 3, pp. 5-6.

Barnet, P. "Opus Teutonicum: A Medieval Westphalian Lectern Cover," Hali 17, pp. 98-100, 116

Darr, A. & T. Albainy. "Acquisitions of European sculpture and decorative arts at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1988 - 1999," The Burlington Magazine 142 (June 2000): 405, no. II (color ill).