Pienza Cope

The Pienza cope, English, 14th century. The Pienza cope, English, 14th century. Courtesy Museo Diocesano, Palazzo Borgia, Pienza.

The Pienza cope is a medieval ecclesiastical cope now in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, Pienza (Tuscany, Italy). The cope is believed to date from the early fourteenth century (1315-1335 according to the Princeton Index of Christian Art) and was given to the cathedral by Pope Pius II (r: 1458-1464). The cope has a broad orphrey and the remains of a hood.

The cope is made from a semi-circle of cloth that is 350 cm at its widest and 164 cm high. It is decorated in three concentric levels with niches. The lower level includes scenes from the lives of St. Catherine of Alexandria (Catherine of the Wheel, an early fourth century martyr) and St. Margaret of Antioch (early fourth century martyr). The embroidery is carried out in opus anglicanum and is regarded as one of the best examples of early fourteenth century English work.

The cope is made of linen with embroidery worked with silver-gilt, silver and silk thread, using underside couching and surface couching, overcast stitch, satin stitch, split stitch and tent stitch.

The cope is still provided with the original orphrey.

See also the Bologna cope.


  • BROWNE, Clare, Glyn DAVIES, and M.A. MICHAEL (2016). English Medieval Embroidery: Opus Anglicanum, exhibition catalogue, London, Victoria and Albert Museum. London, Catalogue no. 49 (pp. 204-209).
  • CHRISTIE, Mrs. A. (1938), English Medieval Embroidery, Oxford: Claredon Press, pp. 176-183 (no. 95); pls. CXXXIX-CXLII; figs. 2, 4, 28, 31, 143-147.
  • Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles of the British Isles, 450-1450. Edited by Gale OWEN-CROCKER, Elizabeth COATSWORTH & Maria HAYWARD. Leiden: Brill 2012. 'Pienza Cope'.
  • GIORGI, M. and G. PALEI (1994). 'Opus anglicanum del Piviale di Pio II', OPD restauro, VI, pp. 212-223; figs. 1, 4, 6-7, 9-10, 12-17, 19, 23, 25-28.
  • JOHNSTONE, Pamela (2002). High Fashion in the Church, Leeds: Maney, p. 43; fig. 43.
  • MORRIS, MAY (1905). 'Opus Anglicanum III – The Pienza Cope', The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, 7, no. 25, pp. 54-65, pls I-III, figs. 1-2.
  • VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM (1963). Opus Anglicanum, London: V&A Publications, pp. 31-32 (54); pl. 11.
  • WARD, S. (2007). 'Saints in Split Stitch: Representations of saints in Opus Anglicanum vestments', Medieval Clothing and Textiles, III, pp. 49-51; fig. 3.7. 

Digital sources


Digital source of illustration (retrieved 5 June 2016)


Last modified on Wednesday, 15 February 2017 12:30
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