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Forehead cloth

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1575-1625 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered linen with silk, silver and silver-gilt threads, hand-embroidered

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Frank Ward

  • Museum number:

    T.242-1960

  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition

A forehead cloth was part of women's headwear in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It was usually worn with a coif and inventories from the period record matching coifs and forehead clothes being made and bought together. However, it is still unclear just how the forehead cloth was worn, as there are very few portraits illustrating both.

This forehead cloth is richly embroidered with precious metal threads and probably once had a matching coif. The repeating pattern of birds, roses, strawberries and caterpillars is typical of the naturalistic embroidery designs of the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Physical description

Forehead cloth of embroidered linen with coloured silks, silver and silver-gilt threads in detached buttonhole stitch, chain stitch, plaited braid stitch and couching. The pattern consists of rows of strawberries and caterpillars repeating with peacocks and roses with rosehips. The embroidery is unfinished at the edges, and traces of original pen and ink drawing remain along with the triangular outline. The forehead cloth is unlined and the hemming of the edges are modern. The thread count is approximately 65 x 80 threads per inch.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1575-1625 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered linen with silk, silver and silver-gilt threads, hand-embroidered

Dimensions

Length: 25.5 cm

Descriptive line

Woman's forehead cloth of embroidered linen with coloured silk, silver and silver-gilt threads, England, 1575-1625

Subjects depicted

Caterpillar; Strawberry; Peacock; Roses

Categories

Women's clothes; Hats & headwear; Embroidery; Textiles; Accessories; Fashion

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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