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Embroidered picture

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1650-60 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered in silk, metal thread and seed pearls on satin

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Jefferies in memory of her daughter Miss Kate Jefferies

  • Museum number:

    T.117-1936

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

King Charles I was executed in 1649, haaving been defeated in the English Civil War of 1642-46. This embroidered picture shows him kneeling, on the right, with his son Charles II standing on the left.

The depiction of Charles I is taken from the frontispiece, engraved by William Marshall, of Eikon Basilike : The Portraiture of his Sacred Majesty in his Solitudes and Sufferings. This was a pamphlet on sale in London at the time of Charles' execution. It purported to be his private meditations as he awaited death; presenting him as a Christlike martyr persecuted for his virtures, it provoked a rush of sympathy for the dead king. The book immediately became a best seller; going through 35 English editions by the end of the year, and 25 foreign editions, it was subsequently translated into all the main languages in Europe.

Physical description

Embroidered in silk, metal thread and seed pearls on white satin; stitches include split, long and short and stem stitches, with buttonholing, speckling and couched and raised work. There are two scenes under arches with cherub heads in the spandrels.
On the right, King Charles I, robed, kneels in a chapel with coffered roof, and takes from the altar the crown of thorns (with embroidered words GRATIA. ASPERAM AT LEVEM); on the altar are the Bible (IN TVO VERBO SPES MEA) and a paper (CHRISTI TRACTO); at his feet are a globe (MUNDI CALCO) and the Earthly Crown (VANITAS; SPLENDIDAM AT GRAVEM). Charles looks upwards (CAELI SPECTO) to behold the Heavenly Crown (GLORIA : BEATAM ET ATERNAM).
On the left, Charles II in armour stands with two angels holding a crown over his head.
The margins of linen have been covered with blue silk; on acquisition the embroidery was said to have the small letters AH on the right side, but these are no longer visible.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1650-60 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered in silk, metal thread and seed pearls on satin

Dimensions

Height: 365 mm, Width: 473 mm

Historical context note

The depiction of Charles I is taken from the frontispiece, engraved by William Marshall, of Eikon Basilike : The Portraiture of his Sacred Majesty in his Solitudes and Sufferings. This was a pamphlet on sale in London at the time of his execution. It purported to be Charles' private meditations as he awaited death; presenting him as a Christlike martyr persecuted for his virtures, it provoked a rush of sympathy for the dead king. The book instantly became a best seller; going through 35 English editions by the end of the year, and 25 foreign editions, it was translated into all the main languages in Europe.

Descriptive line

embroidered, 1650-60, English; Charles I from "Eikon Basilike"

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.46-7.
Morrall, A. and Watt, M. eds, ‘Twixt Art and Nature : English Embroidery from the Metropolitan Museum of art 1580-1700, 2008., chapter 4 and cat. no. 5

Labels and date

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

Embroidery with Charles I
About 1650–60

This embroidery of Charles I is taken from a pamphlet sold in London shortly after his execution in 1649. The pamphlet, Eikon Basilike [Image of the King]: The Poutraicture of His Sacred Maiestie in His Solitudes and Sufferings, said to have been written by the king himself, was an effective piece of Royalist propaganda. The image was reproduced in many forms, but the embroidered version is very rare.

England
Silk satin embroidered with silk, metal thread and seed pearls
Given by Mrs Jefferies in memory of her daughter
V&A T.117-1936 []

Materials

Satin; Silk

Techniques

Embroidering

Categories

Embroidery; Royalty; Textiles

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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