The subject of the Holy Kindred was a popular image in Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands during the Reformation when the cult of Mary was being silenced. The idea was to show the Virgin and Child surrounded by members of their extended family, as understood by medieval exegis. The central premise of this exegis was that Mary Cleophas and Mary Salome, who are named in the gospels as witnesses to the Crucifixion, were both sisters of the Virgin Mary.
The most unusual features of the present tapestry are the fact that none of the adult consorts of the Holy Women, who are often included, are present, and that the lettering is classical as opposed to Gothic. At the time of the Gould sale it was suggested that the tapestry was probably woven in Nuremberg, but it is equally likely to be Swiss. The coat-of-arms to the bottom right of the main field is possibly that of the original patron, but remains unidentified.
The sprigs of flowers within the tapestry relate closely to a tapestry depicting a game of cards believed to be from Basel and of the late 15th Century (H. Lanz, Die alten Bildteppiche im Historischen Museum Basel, Basel, 1985, pp. 54-57) and a further tapestry depicting the symbolic Annunciation, with Mary in the 'Enclosed Garden', of the late 15th Century (F. Gysin, Swiss Medieval Tapestries, London, 1940, pp. 12-13, plate 5).