By: Kathryn Berenson
The late-fourteenth-century Coperta Guicciardini in the National Museum of the Bargello, Florence, and The Tristan Quilt in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, are attributed to a southern Italian atelier. Together they present an illustrated version of an early episode in the legend of Tristan, one of King Arthur’s Round Table knights. Although the furnishings’ narrative imagery derives from Italian versions of Tristan romances, several scenes and details within scenes have no counterpart in these fourteenth-century manuscripts. Moreover, the furnishings assign heraldic arms to the hero, Tristan, and his enemy, Morold, that point to persons and states involved in late-fourteenth-century events on the Italian peninsula. Supplemental imagery in the furnishings unrelated to the traditional Tristan story also alludes to these events.