Presentation at the Temple
The first visit to the Temple
Following the story as told in the Gospel of Luke (2, 22-39), the central scene shows the presentation of Jesus at the Temple of Jerusalem and the purification of the Virgin. Mary, in the centre of the tapestry, is handing Jesus to the old priest Simeon. The Holy Spirit had revealed to the priest that he should not die before seeing the Messiah. When he saw Jesus, he thanked God for sending “the light to enlighten the Gentiles”, a metaphor which is made clear by the lit candles which some characters can be seen carrying.
The sacrifice of two birds
In the background, Saint Joseph can be seen holding a cage with “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons”, which were a sacrificial offering prescribed by Jewish law. Behind Simeon is the prophetess Anna, wearing a turban and “thanking God”. The sacrifice of the two birds is linked to the sacrifices of Abel and Abraham, which are represented in the banners towards the top of the tapestry.
Presentations and coronations from the Old Testament
King David appears on the left-hand sidein the foreground; behind him, Samuel is presented to the priest Eli by his mother Anna. The opposite side is dominated by the figure of Solomon, in front of a scene in which the wise king appears together with his mother, Bathsheba, just before his coronation by the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan (1 Kings 1, 33).
A copy for the illegitimate child of Ferdinand the Catholic
A replica of this piece was also held in the Cathedral of La Seo in Zaragoza, which, like the first tapestry in the series, belonged to Archbishop Alonso of Aragón, an illegitimate son of Ferdinand the Catholic. We do not know when the tapestry was taken from the cathedral, but it is known to have belonged to a Parisian collector, Martin le Roy, in 1884. Its subsequent history is unknown.
Series Episodes from the Life of the Virgin
Second tapestry in the series
Models Attributed to Jan von Roome (or van Brussel)
Manufacture Pieter van Aelst, Brussels, c. 1502-1504
Fabric Gold, silver, silk and wool
Size 355 x 374 cm
Location Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso
Origin The Collection of Joanna I
On display Tapestry Museum, Sala de Isabel la Católica y Juana de Castilla
National Heritage Inv. n. 10005809