Sunday, March 11, 2012

L'Amour A L'Epine embroidery design

L'Amour A L'Epine

A very considerable number of caps and
head-dresses worked in this way are still
existing. The caps are almost invariably of
rounded form, with turned-up edges trimmed
with gold lace. There are several in the
museum at South Kensington, including one
from the collection of Lord Zouche, and two
from that of Sir Thomas Isham of Lamport
Hall. The two latter (Plate 40) may belong
to the early part of Elizabeth's reign. The
ladies' head-dresses are commonly of a
hooded shape, drawn together by a string
at the back (Plate 40). The embroidery is
sometimes in black alone, but oftener the
stems are of plaited gold thread. It seems
probable that these caps did not go entirely
out of fashion until the reign of Charles I.
Black was not always the colour chosen. A
cap of the same form, with a pattern of roses,
pansies, and strawberries in colours, the stems
in gold, is in the museum (No. 2016, 1899).

The Annunciation machine embroidery design

The Annunciation

The jacket was given by William IV. to
the Viscountess Falkland, wife of the tenth
viscount. It is recorded to have belonged to
Queen Elizabeth. A large coverlet and a
pillow-cover (Plate 37) of " black work," also
belonging to the Viscount Falkland, may
perhaps date from a little earlier in the same
century. Each has a running pattern of vine-
stems, the large leaves being filled with tiny
diaper patterns. An embroidery of a similar
class has lately been acquired by the Victoria
and Albert Museum (No. 252, 1902). The
panels are shaped to form the parts of a
tunic, which has never been made up (Plate
38). The pattern is almost entirely floral ;
it consists of columbines, pansies, acorns,
filberts, birds, butterflies, and insects. There
is a tradition that this work was done by
Mary, the daughter of Sir Henry Pierrepont
and sister of the Earl of Kingston, who was
married to Fulk Cartwright of Ossington in

The Madonna of the Carnation embroidery design

The Madonna of the Carnation

The jacket or tunic of " black work "
belonging to the Viscount Falkland has
already been mentioned. By his permission
it is illustrated in this volume (Plate 35). It
is of linen, the embroidery being entirely in
black silk. Amid characteristic floral work
of the period are a number of devices of
a quaint nature. A little flying-fish, which
has leaped out of the water in order to avoid
the gaping mouth of a large fish below, is
attacked by a sea-bird from above ; a man of
Herculean type, astride a crocodile, holds a
writhing serpent in each hand. Other sub-
jects are Actaeon devoured by his hounds,
Bacchus beating a drum, a man on a lion, a
stag pierced by an arrow, another pursued by
a hound, a pelican in her piety, prancing horses,
a camel, an elephant, a sea-horse, unicorns,
monkeys, foxes, squirrels, birds, and fishes.

Sacra Famiglia embroidery design

Sacra Famiglia

Tradition assigns an earlier origin to another
pair, presented, together with other works of
art associated with the Denny family, by Sir
Edward Denny, Bart., to the Victoria and
Albert Museum in 1882. They are of leather,
with white satin gauntlets elaborately em-
broidered and enriched with numerous seed-
pearls. It is believed that they are the gloves
recorded to have been given by Henry VIII.
to Sir Anthony Denny, who was successively
Groom of the Stole, a Privy Councillor, and
an Executor of the King, and afterwards
one of the guardians of the young king
Edward VI. The design, however, seems to
point to a later origin, and it is perhaps more
likely that they are the pair given by James I.
to Sir Edward Denny (afterwards Earl of
Norwich), who, as Sheriff of Hertfordshire,
received the king during his journey from

Boxer cross stitch embroidery design


The large cream -white satin coverlet*
from Ireland, partly reproduced in Plate 42,
is an important example of late Elizabethan
work. It has a deep floral border, and a
pattern of floral sprays in the middle. The
materials used for the embroidery are silver-
gilt and silver thread and silks of various
colours. A practice not altogether commendable
is exemplified here. Some of the
petals of the flowers have been separately
worked, and afterwards fixed to the satin by
one edge only, so as to stand away from the
ground. Such devices are not infrequently
found in Elizabethan work. It is doubtful
whether they should be employed at all. At
any rate, we may condemn without hesitation
the exaggeration to which the practice was
carried in the succeeding period.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Leopard embroidery


In another portrait at Hampton Court
(No. 349), attributed by some to the artist
Taddeo Zucchero, the queen wears a fancy-
dress, consisting of a long, loose robe, em-
broidered all over in colours, with stems of
roses, pansies and other flowers, and birds.
Her right hand rests on the head of a stag,
and in one of the lower corners of the picture
are some verses, conjectured to be of the
queen's own composition.

A portrait in the possession of the Mar-
quess of Salisbury at Hatfield House is
quainter still. The robe of the queen is
embroidered all over with human eyes and
ears, symbolical, no doubt, of the vigilance and
wisdom of the illustrious wearer.

There is in the Victoria and Albert
Museum (No. 173, 1869), a loose tunic with
long sleeves, dating from the reign of Eliza-
beth. It is of cream-white silk, with em-
broidery in silver-gilt and silver thread and
silks of various colours. The flowers (roses,
honeysuckle, lilies, and pansies) are enclosed
within scrolls arranged in formal compart-
ments. A tunic of similar form (No. 919,
1873) is in a less costly material, being of
linen ; the materials used for the embroidery
are the same as in the previous case.

Mute Swan embroidery design

Mute Swan

At this critical period of our national
history, the playfulness which characterized
so many productions of the time is remark-
able. Soldiers who made the name of Eng-
land respected abroad, wrote the quaintest
poetry at home. The language of the court
succumbed to the general tendency, and its
euphuistic affectations fitted well with the sen-
timents it was employed to express. Design,
too, did not escape. The ordered patterns
of the earlier time give place to a medley of
wandering stems with columbines, pansies,
carnations, roses, tulips, honeysuckle, straw-
berries, acorns, animals, birds, fishes, butter-
flies, and insects.

The numerous portraits of Elizabeth in
the National Portrait Gallery, at Hampton
Court, in noblemen's houses, and elsewhere
illustrate the extent to which embroidery was
used for costume decoration, and the style of
design in vogue. Sometimes she wears a
jacket with the favourite " black work " already
referred to. A half-length portrait at Hamp-
ton Court (No. 6 1 6) is a good example. The
sleeves are embroidered with roses, carnations,
grapes, and strawberries.

Parrot embroidery design


It has a large and elaborate monogram in the middle,
apparently of Katharine's name, and a small
H above and below.*

There was, however, a personage of equally
exalted rank with Elizabeth, who is still more
famous for her skill at embroidery her rival,
Mary Queen of Scots. The number of em-
broideries ascribed to this illustrious captive
is legion. A glance is sufficient to discredit
the attribution in most cases, but, as we shall
see later, there is good reason for supposing
that some of the needlework still preserved
at Hardwick Hall is really by her hand.

Garments, gloves, hangings, curtains,
valances, covers, and numerous other things
of like nature which have survived from the
times of Elizabeth, testify to the skill and
industry of the embroiderers at that period.
The wardrobe of Elizabeth alone is said to
have included three thousand dresses, and
many of these were richly embroidered.

Elephant embroidery


Such work became very popular
during the reign of Elizabeth, and numerous
examples are still to be found in country
houses. It survived the reign of James I.,
but appears to have gone out of fashion in
the time of his successor. One of the most
important existing examples is the tunic
belonging to the Viscount Falkland, which
will be described later.

Queen Elizabeth herself was a skilful
needlewoman. There is in the Bodleian
Library at Oxford an interesting little volume
associated with her early years. It is "The
Mirror or Glasse of the Synneful Soul,"
copied in her own handwriting by the young
princess. The volume is dedicated " From
Assherige, the last daye of the yeare of our
Lord God 1544." The embroidered binding
is conjectured to have been also the work
of Elizabeth. It is adorned with interlacing
bands in plaited gold and silver thread,
enclosing a monogram of the letters KP.
The book was intended as a present to the
queen, Katharine Parr, hence the initials.
In the British Museum there is another
manuscript recorded to have been written
by Elizabeth in 1545. The embroidered
binding resembles that above described

Hawfinch Bird embroidery design

Hawfinch Bird

A cushion beneath
the king's feet and the canopy behind his
throne are enriched in a similar manner.

Henry's first queen, Catherine of Aragon,
and her equally unhappy daughter Mary,
both sought solace from their cares in work-
ing with the needle. Of Catherine it is related
that during her seclusion at Buckden, while
waiting for the final decision respecting the
annulling of her marriage, she and her gentle-
women "occupied themselves working with
their own hands something wrought in needle-
work, costly and artificially, which she in-
tended to the honour of God to bestow upon
some churches." * The class of embroidery
known as " black work " or " Spanish work "
generally in black silk on linen is said to
have been introduced into England by this
unfortunate Queen. At any rate, it appears
to have first found favour in England about
her time. The sombre effect was some-
times relieved by the use of gold thread for
the stems and other details.

Crowned Motmot embroidery design

Crowned Motmot

A few years later, we read thus of the
young Squire, in Chaucer's " Canterbury

" Embrouded was he, as it were a meede
Al ful of fresshe floures whyte and reede."

In the following century, during the reign
of Henry VI., and again in later reigns, the
importation of foreign embroideries was for-
bidden by statute.

The sixteenth century was undoubtedly
the great time for embroidered costume. King
Henry VIII. loved such magnificence, and
the monarch appears on the canvases of Hol-
bein resplendent with gold-embroidered robes.

An oil painting at Hampton Court * gives
an excellent idea of the style and use of
embroidery in this reign. The king is seated,
with his queen Katharine Parr on his left ;
next to the queen stands the Princess Eliza-
beth, and on the other side are Prince
Edward and Princess Mary.

Bogart and Bacall embroidery design

Bogart and Bacall

The reason need not be sought far.
They must have suffered to a much greater
extent from the wear and tear of everyday
use, and the influence of fashion in their case
was no doubt of a more destructive nature.

In the early Middle Ages, embroidery
often served to adorn the ordinary costume
of men and women, and was even employed .
to emblazon the armorial bearings on the
surcoat of the knight. Among the tattered
coats of this latter class which have survived,
that of Edward the Black Prince is the best
known. It is still suspended, with his helmet,
shield, and gauntlets over his monument in
Canterbury Cathedral. The ground is of
faded velvet, originally red and blue, em-
broidered in gold with the Royal Arms of

Al Pacino embroidery design

Al Pacino

HE Reformation practically put
an end to ecclesiastical em-
broidery in England, and the
needlewomen thus lost their best
patron. Not only so, but the
skilful works of former times were, many of
them, alienated or destroyed. A large number
were taken abroad, and many were left behind
only to be burnt for the sake of the precious
metals used in the embroidery, or mutilated
to serve other purposes. The lists of Church
goods sold at the Reformation, include many
vestments which passed in this way into
private hands. " Many private men's par-
lours/' we are told, "were hung with altar-
cloths, their tables and beds covered with
copes, instead of carpets and coverlids."*
Embroideries thus transformed may still be
seen at Hardwick Hall, and in other English

Rose embroidery design


An embroidery, dating from the later
years of the reign of Henry VIII., is illus-
trated in Plate 32. It is an altar-frontal, of
stamped crimson velvet, with applied groups
of figures embroidered in silver-gilt and silver
thread and coloured silks. In the middle is
the Crucifixion, with the Virgin Mary and
St. John the Evangelist on either side of the
cross, standing on a strip of ground covered
with flowers. On the left is a kneeling figure
of Ralph Neville, fourth Earl of Westmor-
land (b. 1499, d. 1550), who succeeded to the
title in 1523; behind him kneel his seven
sons. On the right is his v/ife, Lady Catherine
Stafford* (d. 1555), daughter of the third
Duke of Buckingham ; behind her are their
thirteen daughters.

Orchid Laelio-Cattleya embroidery design

Orchid Laelio-Cattleya

An embroidered velvet panel in the Vic-
toria and Albert Museum, belonging to the
early years of the sixteenth century, differs in
character from any other embroideries of the
period yet described. The ground is of plain
crimson velvet, with a figure of St. Catherine
of Alexandria in regal costume, elaborately
worked in silks and gold and silver thread.
She stands on a patch of earth, holding a
book, and resting her left hand on the pommel
of a sword. Behind her is the prostrate form
of the Emperor Maximin, under whom she
suffered martyrdom.

One more example is mentioned here on
account of the unusual way in which it has
been preserved. In the British Museum
there is an English manuscript book of the
fourteenth century, known as Queen Mary's
Psalter. Each side of the crimson velvet
binding is embroidered with a large floral
device of the form commonly found on
vestments of the early Tudor period. It is
evident that these scraps at one time formed
part of a cope or chasuble.

Zinnias embroidery design


The first is a cope,* now pre-
served at Stonyhurst College. The ground,
of velvet and cloth of gold, is recorded to
have been woven for King Henry VII. at
Florence. The pattern differs from almost
all other known examples of the period in
having been expressly designed and woven
to suit the semicircular form of the cope.
It consists of two large rose-stems with Tudor
roses, encircling portcullises ensigned by
crowns. The orphrey and hood were most
probably embroidered in England. The
orphrey has figures of saints under canopies,
and the subject on the hood is the Annun-

The chasuble is in the possession of Lord
Arundell of Wardour, and is preserved in the
chapel at Wardour Castle. It is of velvet,
with a straight orphrey on the front, and a
cross-shaped orphrey on the back, embroidered
with scenes from the gospel history. The
main ground is covered with Tudor roses,
portcullises, fleurs-de-lys, and pomegranates,
worked in high relief.

A Ride in the Park by Heywood Hardy

A Ride in the Park by Heywood Hardy

The pall of the Fishmongers' Company
also belongs to the end of the fifteenth cen-
tury. At one end is embroidered a figure of
St. Peter (as the patron saint of fishermen)
enthroned, with angels on either side swing-
ing censers, and, at the other end, the Apostle
receiving the keys from our Lord. The pall
is also embroidered with New Testament
subjects, and bears the arms of the company.

The Vintners' pallf is of Italian velvet
and cloth of gold, the lappets being of silk ;
it is embroidered with St. Martin of Tours, a
Pieta, and other subjects.

Three palls were presented to the Mer-
chant Taylors' Company in 1562, and one to
the Stationers' in 1572. Others were pos-
sessed by the Brewers', Coopers', Leather-
sellers', and Founders' Companies.

Wooded path in autumn Sun embroidery

Wooded path in autumn Sun

material is velvet and cloth of gold. On it
are embroidered figures of the Virgin Mary
and St. John the Baptist, and several members
of the Fayrey family, with the arms of the
Mercers 1 and Haberdashers' Companies.

The Worcester pall is in the possession
of the Clothiers' Company of that city. It
bears every indication of having been made
from church vestments. The long em-
broidered bands with figures of saints are
parts of orphreys, and the embroidered de-
vices on the velvet angels, double-headed
eagles, fleurs-de-lys, etc. are frequently found,
as we have seen, on vestments of the end of
the fifteenth century.

A fine pall * of the same period is in the
possession of the Saddlers' Company of Lon-
don. The ground is of crimson velvet, em-
broidered with angels surrounding the sacred
monogram IHS, and with the arms of the

Sea Landscape embroidery design

Sea Landscape

Three Palles of the same Cloth of Gould : the
Lowest Earle began first. Alle the Palles
were layd crosse over the Corpse." *

Such palls were formerly possessed by
almost every guild or fraternity of import-
ance, for use at the burial of members. They
were sometimes of a plain rectangular form,
and sometimes provided with lappets to fall
down the sides of the coffin.

Examples are to be seen at Worcester,
Norwich, Dunstable, Sudbury, and elsewhere,
and several are in the possession of London
companies. The embroideries on the muni-
cipal pall at Sudbury may be compared with
the chasuble from Hexham. The pall is of
velvet, and is embroidered with figures of
the dead in shrouds, the inscriptions on the
scrolls being taken from the " Office of
Matins for the Dead " and the " Litany of the
Faithful Departed." It is of late fifteenth
century work (Plate 31). The black pall in
St. Gregory's Church, Norwich, has figures of
angels bearing the souls of the departed.

Winter Landscape embroidery design

Winter Landscape

It is of black velvet,
with crimson velvet orphreys (Plate 30).
Angels are blowing trumpets to awake the
dead, and hold scrolls with the words
JUDICIUM. Figures of the rising dead
are also represented, and angels bearing
scrolls inscribed JUSTORUM ANIME and
IN MANU DEI SUNT (Book of Wisdom,
iii. i). The initials R. T. with the pastoral
staff and mitre, and the rebus, doubtless have
reference to the bishop or abbot to whom
the chasuble belonged.

Funeral palls of rich workmanship must
at one time have existed in large numbers.
Leland relates that, at the funeral of Prince
Arthur in 1502, when the offerings of money
had been made, " the Lord Powys went to
the Queere Doore, where Two Gentlemen
Ushers delivered him a riche Palle of Cloth
of Gould of Tyssue, which he offred to the
Corpse, where Two Officers of Armes received
it, and laid it along the Corpse. The Lord of
Dudley in like Manner offred a Palle, which
the said officers laid over the Corpse. The
Lord Greye Ruthen offred another : and every
each of the Three Earles offred to the Corpse