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Pillow cover

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    early 17th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, embroidered with metal thread and silks

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In England in the 17th century the majority of wooden chairs and stools were not upholstered, and in more prosperous homes, decorated cushions like this were widely used both for comfort and for the attractiveness of their appearance.

Much embroidery for furnishings such as cushions would have been worked by amateurs on a ground on which the design had been drawn by a professional pattern drawer, sometimes 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.

This embroidery shows four scenes from the Old Testament: God creating Adam, God creating Eve from Adam's rib, the temptation of Eve and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Stories from the Old Testament were popular subjects in English 17th-century domestic embroidery, many versions surviving with minor variations. Most of these 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 a wide circulation in England.

Physical description

This long pillow cover depicts biblical scenes, including Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Linen embroidered with metal thread and silks in stem, chain, back, cross and speckling stitches.

Place of Origin

England (made)


early 17th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen, embroidered with metal thread and silks

Historical context note

See T.143-1962 for details of design source.

Subjects depicted

Garden of Eden; Snail; Angel; Fish; Tiger (animal); Lion; Deer; Snake (animal); Elephant


Embroidery; Christianity; Furniture


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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