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Pillow cover

Pillow cover

  • Place of origin:

    Skyros (made)

  • Date:

    1700-1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen embroidered in silk in darning and double running stitch

  • Credit Line:

    Given by J B Clarke Thornhill

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 1, case CA4

This decorative panel was made on the Greek Island of Skyros, one of the Northern Sporades. An identical panel is in the collection of the Benaki Museum, Athens. This suggests that they were made as a pair of pillow covers, but they may also have been matching corners of a bedsheet that was later cut down.

Skyros had been under the control of Venice from the mid 15th century, but became Turkish territory in 1538. The designs of Skyros embrodieries were heavily influenced by the floral style of Turkish ceramics like those from Isnik, and included many birds, ships and human figures, particularly men in Turkish dress, which during the 18th century became the normal male dress in the Aegean Islands. Although this horseman is brandishing two swords, and wears a third at his waist, he he is presented as if parading his martial skills, rather than engaging in battle.

Physical description

Panel of linen embroidered in coloured silks. The design is of a man on horseback raising a sword in each hand. He is wearing a striped upper garment and baggy breeches, and hat with feather plume, and another sword at his waist. Beneath him is a vase from which emerge flowering stems and a stylised deer-like creature on each side, in approximately symmetrical form. The panel is fringed with silk tufts on all sides.

Place of Origin

Skyros (made)


1700-1800 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen embroidered in silk in darning and double running stitch


Height: 37 cm, Width: 49 cm

Descriptive line

Linen pillow cover with embroidered design of man on horseback, Greek Islands (Skyros), 1700s

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

Tatiana Ioannou-Yannara, Greek Embroidery 17th-19th Century. Works of Art from the Collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Angeliki Hatzimihali Foundation, 2007, cat. 64, p. 260

Labels and date

Family label for Europe 1600-1815:

This embroidery shows a warrior who was so good at horse riding that he didn’t have to hold on to the reins. This meant he could fight with a sword in each hand.

What trick would you do to impress everyone? [09/12/2015]
Probably the corner motif from a bed cover, with added tassels. Linen embroidered with silk in darning and double running stitch. The figure on horseback is dressed in the style of doublet and breeches which was fashionable in Western Europe in the early 17th century.
Skyros, 18th century.
Given by J B Clarke Thornhill []








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