DISCOVER CARPET ART

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Photograph: Carlos Monteiro,  © MNAA/ADF


Name of Object:

The Circumcision

Location:

Lisbon, Portugal

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Ancient Art

Date:

c. 1550

Type of object:

Painting

Artists:

Unknown

Museum Inventory Number:

181 PINT

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Oil on oak panel

Dimensions:

H: 213.5cm, W: 169cm

Workshop / Movement:

Unknown

Provenance:

Portugal, unknown location

Description:

We are witnessing the representation of one of the most important episodes of Jesus’ childhood, in which, according to Jewish law, the Child gains its identity.
The scene has been re-created in the interior of a Renaissance-style temple where the Holy Family and several figures cluster around the table where a priest is about to carry out the circumcision.
Covering the altar there is a white towel, in turn, this covers a carpet, of which only the border, filled with “vine scrolls”, palmettes and foliage, is visible. This variant in the use of carpets in a painting makes this a very interesting document.
Alongside its use as a floor-cover in paintings, when its symbolism is associated with dignity and spatial boundaries, carpets were used widely as a cover for altars in churches as well as in civil settings as furniture covers, as several Portuguese inventories attest.
In the Circumcision, a so-called knotted “Holbein” carpet can be seen. It is put to the same use here as the carpet represented by Hans Holbein, the Younger (1497/8‒1543), in his famous portrait The Ambassadors, which thereafter gave this specific compositional structure the name “Holbein”.

How date and origin were established:

Technical information provided by José Alberto Seabra de Carvalho

How Object was obtained:

Transferred from the convent absolved in 1834

How provenance was established:

Stylistic analysis and material dating

Selected bibliography:

Hallett, Jessica and Pereira, Teresa Pacheco, The Oriental Carpet in Portugal: Carpets and paintings, 15th‒18th centuries, Lisbon: MNAA, 2007.

Citation of this web page:

Ana Kol "The Circumcision"  [db_in_citation_dca]  2019. http://carpets.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?itemId=object;DCA;pt;Mus31_D;22;en

Prepared by: Ana Kol
Translation by: Lily Chadwick
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: PT1_022


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