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Cushion cover

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1640-1670 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen canvas, embroidered in wool and silk

  • Credit Line:

    Given by H. F. C. Lewin

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 17

Object Type
This embroidery was worked as the front of a cushion cover, but was never made up for use, which is one of the reasons that its colours are still so bright. In the middle of the 17th century the majority of wooden chairs and stools were not upholstered, and in more prosperous homes, decorated cushions were widely used both for comfort and for the attractiveness of their appearance.

Materials & Making
This cushion cover would have been worked by an amateur though accomplished embroiderer, on a canvas ground on which the design had been drawn by a professional pattern drawer, adapting published prints. Because the design would have been drawn on the canvas in black outline only, the embroiderer could use her individual taste in the choice of colour, and to a more limited extent, stitch and type of thread.

Subjects Depicted
The embroidery shows two scenes from the story of Abraham in the Old Testament : Abraham entertaining the Angels announcing the birth of Isaac, and the Angel restraining Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. The story of Abraham was an extremely popular subject in English 17th-century domestic embroidery, many versions surviving with minor variations. Most of these, and other Old Testament scenes used in embroidery, were taken originally from a book of biblical stories published by Gerard de Jode in Antwerp in 1585. The illustrations from this seem to have had wide circulation in England.

Physical description

An embroidered long cushion cover with a landscape setting and people, angels, animals, plants and buildings.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1640-1670 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen canvas, embroidered in wool and silk


Height: 55.9 cm, Width: 107.5 cm

Historical context note

The print source for the design is Gerard de Jode's Thesaurus Sacrarum, Antwerp, 1585

Descriptive line

embroidered, 1630-1669, English

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This design was transferred onto canvas by a specialist craftsman known as a pattern drawer. He modified biblical scenes published in Antwerp in 1585 for the outlines of the two main groups of figures (see photograph). He then probably used English prints as the source for the animals, birds, insects and flowers in the background. [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted

Angels; Architecture; Snake (animal); Leopard; Deer; Monkey (animal); Snail; Horse; Squirrel; Birds; Lion


British Galleries; Textiles; Tapestry


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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