The Wise and Foolish Virgins
On View In:
Gallery 340
Artist:   Artist Unknown  
Title:   The Wise and Foolish Virgins  
Date:   17th century  
Medium:   Wool, bast fiber; tapestry weave  
Dimensions:   83 1/2 x 61 in. (212.09 x 154.94 cm)  
Credit Line:   The William Hood Dunwoody Fund  
Location:   Gallery 340  

Large, elaborate tapestries depicting biblical scenes were popular in rural Norway in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They were often associated with marriage celebrations, either as a part of the bride's trousseau or as a gift given to the newly married couple. Commonly used as bed covers, these panels performed multiple functions within the home, providing warmth, decoration and moral instruction to the members of the household. The narrative depicted on this piece illustrates the parable of the five wise and five foolish maidens, as recounted in the book of Matthew in the New Testament of the Bible. The figures in the top register represent the wise maidens, whose oil-filled lamps light the path, guiding the bridegroom to the wedding feast. In the lower register, the foolish maidens with their empty lamps weep into their handkerchiefs upon learning that they have been excluded from the celebration.

Object Description  
Inscriptions:   Inscription; Mark In the top galoon at right: 'OTS' embroidered in linen in chain stitch (Upside down in relation to t  
Classification:   Textiles  
Physical Description:   the main field of the tapestry is divided into two horizontal compositions by an inscription on a horizontal center band that reads DA FE MOMRVERVARE V SE FEM V ARTE DAARL. F'S. ANNOAM 63/1; warp undyed bast figer, 4-4½ ends per cm. weft dyed wool, 18-34 ends per cm.  
Creation Place:   Europe, Norway, , Gudbrandsdalen,  
Accession #:   43.18  
Owner:   The Minneapolis Institute of Arts