This extremely finely woven, intensely devotional and dramatic narrative tapestry of Christ's Passion, which has a remarkably high content of silver-thread, belongs to a distinct group that includes tapestries depicting a very wide variety of subjects (please see the list at the end of the note for examples). The unifying features of this group of tapestries are that they are all conceived with a very narrow sky, in some cases further reduced by scrolls such as on this tapestry, with distinctive outlines of townscapes on the horizon. Some of the roofs have characteristic but generally unusual triangular projections such as on the roof visible above Christ bearing the Cross. They also feature the same distinctive cabochon-enriched halos and vestments. Most of the tapestries from this group are of much greater size than the Wernher example, with the exception of La Vie de Saint Pierre that is conceived as a choir hanging.
Despite the many analogies, there are, however, some marked differences in the group pointing towards a number of designers having created these tapestries. Unless these surviving examples can individually be tied to documents of the period, a certain attribution to specific designers will be unlikely. Not only are there too few surviving works by these artists, but also the conversion by the cartoonists of a smaller design into the large sheets from which the tapestries could be woven, combined with the individual style of the weavers, will have altered the original design. The existing similarities did, however, prompt previous researchers to speculate that artists working in a similar style in Tournai in the 1450s and 1460s created all these tapestries. The names that have been suggested are Bauduin de Bailleul, although no works that can be with certainty be attributed to him have survived, Rogier van der Weyden (d. 1464), who can with certainty be identified as the designer of The History of Trajan and Herkinbald in the Historisches Museum, Bern, Jacques Daret, the probable designer of La Vie de Saint Pierre, and their teacher, Robert Campin. This theory has, however, in more recent works (A. Cavallo, Medieval Tapestries in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1993, pp. 198-209) been rejected and the similarities are ascribed to 'bonds reflecting the common style of a particular time and place'. An attribution of this tapestry to a specific designer or weaving centre is thus not possible. Artists traveled widely, Van der Weyden for example settled in Brussels, and their designs were sometimes executed in different weaving centres. However, it is interesting to note that the titles of several of the comparable works appear in the lists of tapestries supplied by Pasquier Grenier (d. 1493). Grenier was one of the principal tapestry merchants and weavers of Tournai in the second half of the fifteenth century, recorded as having supplied a set of six tapestries depicting The Passion to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, in 1461.
The tapestries of the same group include:
-La Vie de Saint Pierre, a set consisting of eleven panels, now in the Musée de Cluny, Paris, the Cathedral of Beauvais, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and two small fragments in private collections, one of which hangs in the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco (F. Joubert, La Tapisserie Médiévale au Musie de Cluny, Paris, 1987, pp. 17-35).
-The Adoration of the Magi in the Historisches Museum, Bern (R.L. Wyss, 'Der Dreikönigsteppich im Historischen Museum Bern', L'Age d'Or de la Tapisserie Flamande, Brussels, 1969, pp. 364-383).
-The Story of Caesar in the Historisches Museum, Bern (G. Delmarcel, Flemish Tapestry, Tielt, 1999, pp. 56-59).
-The History of Trajan and Herkinbald in the Historisches Museum, Bern (Delmarcel, op. cit., pp. 36-37).
-The Story of Clovis in the Palais du Tau, Rheims (R.L. Wyss, catalogue of the exhibition, Die Burgunderbeute und Werke Burgundischer Hofkunst, 1969, pp. 372-380).
-The Story of Alexander in the Palazzo Doria, Rome (R.A. d'Hulst, Tapisseries Flamandes du XVIe au XVIIIe Sile, Brussels, 1960, pp. 49-58)
-The Swan Knight in the Saint Catherine Church, Cracow (B. Kurth, Gotische Bildteppiche aus Frankreich und Flandern, Munich, 1923).
-Jephtha in the cathedral, Saragossa (G. L. Hunter, The Practical Book of Tapestries, London, 1925, pls. IV e and ea).
-The Story of Ahab in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (A. Cavallo, Textiles, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, 1986, pp. 26-29).
-The Passion Scenes in the Musée du Cinquantenaire, Brussels, in Madrid and in the Vatican (J.J. Junquera, catalogue of the exhibition, Tapisserie de Tournai en Espagne, 1985, pp. 134-137).
-The Story of the Vengeance of Our Lord in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Cavallo, op. cit., pp. 198-209)
-Credo in the Vatican (Junquera, op. cit., pp. 110-113).