Name of Object:

Antependium with the Tribute of Continents and Imperial Countries to the Holy Family


Governor’s Palace, Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic

Holding Museum:

Moravian Gallery, Brno

 About Moravian Gallery, Brno, Governor’s Palace, Brno

Date of Object:


Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Marie Tekla Bittnerová of Glückstein (1675, Vienna-1730, Brno)

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Repp (warp of silk and weft of cotton; silver lamellas). Embroidery in silk and metal lamellas; decoration and painting in gouache on canvas and parchment.


h: 291 cm; w: 100 cm


Franciscan Convent of St. Joseph, Brno

Type of object:

Embroidery and painting in original gilded frame

Place of production:



This colourful embroidery was executed as a “needle painting” and is set within an original gilded frame. An eventful scene opens out with a central motif of columned architecture with staircases and balustrades, and adoring female figures. At the bottom left, four girls kneel, with the coats of arms of the imperial Electors of the clergy who facilitated the foundation of the Franciscan Convent of St. Joseph in Brno. The Archbishops of Treves, Cologne and Mainz are represented by the coats of arms of Karel Kaspar von der Leyen (1652–1676), Maximilian Heinrich von Bayern (1650–1688) and Johann Philipp von Schönborn (1647–1673). Opposite, four girls kneel with the coats of arms of the imperial countries: Bavaria, Saxony, Brandenburg and Pfalz. In the centre are four female personifications of the continents, Asia, America, Africa and Europe, in precious attire. The women and a host of lay people of both sexes pay tribute to the Holy Family. The Virgin Mary is supervising the education of Jesus, while St. Joseph hands to the Pope – a personification of the Church – a sheet with the text Ecclesiae Petenti Satisfiat. The scene is crowned with the dove of the Holy Spirit. At the sides are monumental summerhouses with decorative vases and cartouches with the inscription Ite ad Joseph (Go to Joseph), while the Old Testament quotation (Gen 41:55) relates to the figure of St. Joseph of Nazareth. In combination with the text on the donated sheet, it elucidates the subject of the embroidered antependium emphasising the role of St. Joseph, patron saint of the Franciscan Convent of St. Joseph in Brno, as a righteous protector of the church and promoter of Divine will. Towards the horizon, various landscapes alternate on the antependium, valleys and hills dotted with dominant castles. The intricate layout of the embroidery may refer to a major event in the history of the Franciscan convent or it could commemorate the establishment and construction of the Convent Church of St. Joseph in 1651–1653.

View Short Description

The subject of the technically and artistically remarkable antependium is derived from the legends of St. Joseph, a popular saint of the Baroque period. It is one of only a few examples of the use of figurative embroidery in sacred art during the first half of the 18th century, and a specimen of monastery art.

Original Owner:

Franciscan Convent of St. Joseph, Brno

Current Owner:

Czech-Moravian Province of the Roman Union of the Order of St. Ursula, Prague (OSU Prague)

How date and origin were established:

According to archival records, this embroidery – which is of extraordinary quality – was executed by Sister Marie Tekla Bittnerová of Glückstein who during 1705 and 1730 lived in the Franciscan Convent of St. Joseph, Brno, where she produced chasubles, as well as other antependia.

How Object was obtained:

On long-term loan

Selected bibliography:

Dana Stehlíková, in Jiří Kroupa (ed), Dans le miroir des ombres. La Moravie à ľâge baroque 16701790, Paris–Rennes–Brno, 2002, pp. 279–280, cat. 120.
Dana Stehlíková, Bohemia Sancta. Poklady křesťanského umění z českých zemí, Caltanissetta–Syracuse–Prague, 2004.

Citation of this web page:

Andrea  Husseiniová "Antependium with the Tribute of Continents and Imperial Countries to the Holy Family" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;BAR;cz;Mus11;11;en

Prepared by: Andrea Husseiniová
Copyedited by: Zora Wörgötter, Jiří Kroupa
Translation by: Irma Charvátová
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: CZ 12