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Forehead cloth

Forehead cloth

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1600-1625 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, silk thread, silver-gilt thread; hand-embroidered

  • Museum number:

    T.76-1911

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

A forehead cloth was part of women’s headwear in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It was usually worn with a coif and inventories from the period record matching coifs and forehead clothes being made and bought together. However, it is still unclear just how the forehead cloth was worn, as there are very few portraits illustrating both.

This forehead cloth is embroidered with coloured silks and silver-gilt thread, and probably once had a matching coif. The repeating pattern of flowers, fruits, birds and insects is typical of the naturalistic embroidery designs of the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Physical description

A forehead cloth of linen embroidered with coloured silks in shades of green, blue, pink, red, yellow and white in detached buttonhole stitch; and silver-gilt thread in chain, plaited braid stitches and couching. The pattern consists of silver-gilt scrolling stems bearing coloured leaves, strawberries, roses, other flowers, a bird and butterflies. The cloth is embroidered around the edge with green silk in buttonhole stitch.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

1600-1625 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Linen, silk thread, silver-gilt thread; hand-embroidered

Dimensions

Width: 37.2 cm overall, approx., Length: 17.6 cm overall, approx.

Object history note

A coif almost identical in design to this forehead cloth is held in a private collection in New York. They have no provenance for their piece, but they believe it to be the piece sold at Chrtisties South Kensington 23 October 1990 lot 167 ex Roger Warner collection. Personal communication to Clare Browne june/july 2006.

In June 2007 this coif was held by Witney Antiques, Oxfordshire, and shown at the Grosvenor House antiques fair in that year.
Seen by Daniel Milford-Cottam at Grosvenor House, June 2007.

Descriptive line

A woman's forehead cloth of linen, 1600-1625, British; embroidered with coloured silks and metal thread in a pattern of flowers, birds, insects

Materials

Linen

Techniques

Embroidery

Subjects depicted

Butterfly; Bird; Strawberry; Roses

Categories

Clothing; Hats & headwear; Embroidery

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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