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Cover

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1856-1869 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered wool intarsia in silks, wool and silk appliqué

  • Museum number:

    CIRC.114-1962

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This cover or hanging consists of sixty-one panels with the Royal Coat of Arms in the centre and figures symbolising the four continents in each corner. The subjects of the other panels include scenes from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, images of the four evangelists, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, celebrated French and British military and naval heroes, well-known performers and actors, and episodes and characters from popular plays. The subject of each panel is identified with an embroidered title.

It is skillfully made of appliquéd wool and silk with some intarsia work. The figures are carefully depicted, their facial and bodily features, drapery, details of their clothes and accessories embroidered in polychrome silks in chain, satin, back and other flat stitches. In the case of the bears in the story of Elijah, the nap of the wool fabric has been raised to suggest their shaggy coats.

The identity of the maker is not known but similar quilts of known authorship were made by men, several of whom were tailors.

Physical description

Cover or hanging consisting of sixty-one panels with the Royal Coat of Arms in the centre and figures symbolising the four continents, Asia, Africa, America and Europe, in each corner. Embroidered silk and wool in coloured silks and appliqued. Edged with red fringe.

The subjects of the other panels include scenes from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, images of the four evangelists, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, celebrated French and British military and naval heroes, well-known performers and actors, and episodes and characters from popular plays. The subject of each panel is identified with an embroidered title. It is made from polychrome plain and figured woven silks as well as plain and twill weave wools in a variety of colours and patterns. The figures are carefully depicted, with their facial and bodily features, drapery, details of their clothes and accessories embroidered in polychrome silks in chain, satin, back and other flat stitches.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

1856-1869 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered wool intarsia in silks, wool and silk appliqué

Dimensions

Height: 267 cm, Width: 229 cm, Width: 90 in, Height: 105 in

Object history note

The imagery of this cover or hanging reflects popular culture in mid-nineteenth century Britain and a patriotic interest in the military prowess of the country. The inclusion of Lord Raglan suggests a date of manufacture after the Crimean War (1854-56). The selection of episodes from plays about Robin Hood and Wat Tyler and the reference to the Anti-Corn Law League, may reflect the maker's support for radical politics. The depiction of Theobald Matthew, a leading Irish Catholic Temperance campaigner, suggests an interest in the Temperance Movement.

Historical significance: Throughout the 19th century, Britain's unrivalled position as a successful mercantile and manufacturing economy created unprecedented technological, social and economic changes. The revolution brought about by industrialisation and global trade affected all levels of society.

As the educational programme of Victorian England established itself, with its emphasis on social improvement, quilts moved from the home to the public sphere. Some of the most inventive examples of 19th-century patchwork were produced for exhibition and display, often with a didactic aim. The pieces were designed to show off individual skill - such as difficult inlay patchwork - but also to promote Victorian values of perseverance and hard work.

Historical context note

Wat Tyler was the leader of a 1381 peasants revolt which ended in the execution of the rebels. A verse play based on the character was staged in 1848-50, requesting greater political representation for working men's demands. The Anti Corn Law League was active from 1839 to 1846, and campaigned for the repeal of laws which forbade importing cheap grain from abroad. This was seen as a battle between large farmers who wanted high prices and working people who needed cheap food.

Descriptive line

Cover or hanging of embroidered silk and wool in coloured silks and appliqued, Great Britain, 1856-1869

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

Morris, Barbara. Victorian Embroidery. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1962. pp.64-5.
Linda Parry, 'Complexity and context: nineteenth-century British quilts', in Sue Prichard (ed.), Quilts 1700-2010 (London: V&A, 2010) pp.77-81

Labels and date

Cover depicting military heroes and radical causes
Britain
1856-69

This cover or hanging depicts British naval and military heroes alongside the four evangelists, politicians, actors and Victoria and Albert. Irish temperance campaigner Theobald Mathew appears (top centre, left of 'execution'), and a panel relating to the Anti-Corn Law League (bottom centre) also hints at the maker's support for radical causes.

In inlay patchwork - similar to the decorative woodworking technique of marquetry - cut-out fabric shapes are fitted into an identical cut-out space in another fabric to create intricate designs.

Wool

V&A: Circ.114-1962 [20th March 2010]

Materials

Wool; Silk

Techniques

Patchwork; Applied work; Embroidery

Subjects depicted

Radicalism; Coat of arms; Patriotism

Categories

Textiles; Interiors; Embroidery

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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