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  • Place of origin:

    England (possibly, embroidered)
    Scotland (possibly, embroidered)
    France (possibly, embroidered)

  • Date:

    1580-1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen canvas embroidered with wools and silks

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Miss Maud Lilian Ochs

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
A bed set, which comprised valances, curtains and sometimes a bed cover, helped to create almost a separate chamber, cosy and 'furnished', within the bedroom. Valances such as this were used like a frieze around the top of the bed and covered the rods and rings on which the curtains were suspended. On very grand beds a second set of valances was fitted to cover the inner side of the rods.

Subject Depicted
The setting of an ornamental garden scene with a mountainous skyline was very popular for this type of embroidered hanging. The female figures are fashionably dressed in the style of the French court. The theme of the Seven Virtues reflects the contemporary interest in that type of subject matter.

Makers & Making
The style and workmanship of this valance suggest that it was made at a professional workshop strongly influenced by French fashion. It could therefore have been the product of a French workshop, made for the English or Scottish market, or an English or Scottish workshop that was influenced by French fashion.

Physical description

Valance of linen canvas embroidered with wools and silks in tent stitch, with details in stem stitch and couched work. The scene is of an ornamental garden with a mountainous skyline. At the extreme left are three females, dressed in fashionable costume, with part of a fourth who may represent four of the seven virtues. The hand of the largely unseen figure holds a flaming sword (?) which possibly may belong to Justice or Temperance. A seated female holds a flaming heart and may represent Charity. A female behind bears a shield and may represent Justice, and another holds an anchor and may represent Hope. The next two scenes show the same couple, a male and female (unidentified) . Their costumes are semi classical. In the first scene the female beckons to the man, and in the second the man walks with difficulty with a stick and holds onto the arm of the woman. The final scene shows two women who appear to be awaiting for the arrival of the couple.

Place of Origin

England (possibly, embroidered)
Scotland (possibly, embroidered)
France (possibly, embroidered)


1580-1600 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen canvas embroidered with wools and silks


Height: 56.5 cm, Width: 182 cm, Length: 71 in, Height: 22.25 in

Object history note

Registered File number 1957/3032.
Although strongly influenced by French styles and fashion, valances of this type with secure provenances have English associations. This valance may therefore have been produced in an English, Scottish or French professional workshop.

May be a partner to T.136-1991.

Descriptive line

Valance of linen canvas embroidered with wools and silks, possibly made in France, Scotland or England, 1580-1600

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Valances were borders around the top of an Elizabethan bed. They were often embroidered or woven in tapestry with lively and colourful images including figures from mythology. The figures here probably include four of the traditional Seven Virtues, shown here wearing versions of [check] classical dress. [27/03/2003]


Linen (material); Wool yarn; Silk thread



Subjects depicted

Buildings; Dogs (animals); Heart (motif); Gardens; Trees; Peacocks; Women; Court dress; Anchors; Shields; Ruffs; Landscape; Mountains; Rabbits; Statues; Swords; Cloaks; Costume; Staffs; Jewellery; Headdresses; Figures (representations); Flowers (motifs); Sandals; Men; Flaming hearts; Sashes


Textiles; British Galleries; Embroidery; Scotland


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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