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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1600-25 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, embroidered with silk and metal thread, and spangles

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Stylised red and white roses were the central symbol of the 16th century Tudor dynasty. Columbine flower was sometimes seen to signify sorrow. By the early 17th century however, it is uncertain whether such decoration would have had a specific symbolic purpose. It is more likely that the rose and columbine on this jacket, together with the other flowers, are part of the commonplace fashionable floral motifs of the time, when botanical picture books were popular and used frequently as design inspiration. The botanical features include honeysuckle,pansies, carnations, foxgloves, borage, strawberries, cornflowers, rosehips, thistles, columbine and vineleaves. There are also pea-pods which include small silver-gilt thread peas, around all of which there are small birds, bees and worms.

Silver-gilt thread scrolls around the design, and along with small metal spangles (the 17th century term for sequins), would have caught the light, adding to the beautiful detail of this jacket.

Physical description

Embroidered in silk and silver-gilt thread on linen, mainly in chain and plaited braid stitches, with buttonholing. The jacket is decorated with circular coiling stems in gold terminating in a variety of flowers, with occasional birds, caterpillars and butterflies on the stems.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1600-25 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen, embroidered with silk and metal thread, and spangles


Height: 68 cm, Width: 126 cm unmounted

Historical context note

Stylised red and white roses had been central to sixteenth century Tudor dynastic symbolism. Their role as emblems also developed to represent marriage, fecundity and motherhood - the red rose symbolised childbirth and the white rose a mother's milk. Columbine was sometimes seen to signfiy sorrow due to its often dark purple appearance whilst in a catholic cultural context seven columbine flower-heads could be used to represent the seven sorrows of Mary as well as being symbols for the Holy Spirit. In this case seven flowers would represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: power, riches, widom, might, honour, glory and blessing. By the early seventeenth century it is uncertain whether such decoration would have had a specific symbolic purpose. It is is more likely that the rose and columbine on this jacket, together with the other flowers, which include honeysuckle, irises or lilies, daisies and pansies are the commonplace fashionable floral motiifs of a woman adorning herself in the maner of a modern Flora. Nevertheless they may still have subtle emblematic intent with overtones of classical and pastoral imagery.

Descriptive line

F, embroidered linen, 1620c, English; Coloured silks metal flowers birds natural ground

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

John Lea Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery of the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textiles, London: HMSO, 1938, p.78
Avril Hart and Susan North, Historical Fashion in Detail: the 17th and 18th centuries, V&A Publications, 1998, p.148 & 149

Labels and date

Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars label text:

Woman’s jacket

The clothing of aristocratic and royal women was decorated with embroidery. Female courtiers wore a linen jacket like this one when dressing informally. Lavishly embroidered with precious metal thread, it demonstrates the wealth of its wearer, and also celebrates the natural world.

Linen, embroidered with silk and metal thread and spangles
V&A 1359-1900 []


Linen; Silk; Gold thread



Subjects depicted

Plants; Bees; Birds; Flowers


Embroidery; Fashion; Clothing; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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