Pouch

ca. 1600 (made)
Pouch thumbnail 1
Pouch thumbnail 2
+2
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 58b
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The presence of the royal coat of arms does not necessarily denote that an object had a royal owner. Usually, it was a profession of loyalty to, or a symbol of patronage from, a particular monarch. The initials which surround the armorial are probably those of the family who owned the pouch.

This pouch probably contained sweet-smelling herbs, which were thought to help induce sleep. Pleasant scents were also believed to help to ward off sickness, with a prime example of the use of this theory being the ‘beak’ masks worn by plague doctors from at least the seventeenth-century.

The richness of the materials used in the object’s production suggest a wealthy source, and the somewhat naïve execution of the design points to an amateur craftsperson, possibly a child, as its maker. This would not have been unusual, as even aristocratic girls were expected to learn needlework as a means of education, instilling discipline, and as a means of expression.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Embroidered linen canvas with silks, silver and silver-gilt threads, lined with silk
Brief Description
Pouch of embroidered linen canvas and silk, made in England, ca. 1600
Physical Description
Pouch of embroidered linen canvas. The ground is embroidered with silver thread in tent stitch, the top right-hand side in small close stitches, and the remainder in large widely-spaced stitches. The design is embroidered with silver gilt thread and silk in shades of blue, yellow, brown, beige, orange, green, pink, cream and black in fine tent stitches.



In the centre, a crowned lion and griffin support the Order of the Garter within which are the arms of the Tudors, and initials 'E R' for Elizabeth Regina. Above is a crown surmounted by an orb and flanked by two swans and two sets of initials 'E R'.



The ground is scattered with sprigs of strawberries, pansies and roses and with small dogs and rabbits. Also scattered over the ground are a number of initials. The sachet is lined with pink silk and there are the remains of six irregularly placed pairs of pink ribbon ties. Behind the ties and in the seams are fragments of a second lining of black silk.
Dimensions
  • Width: 30.5cm
  • Depth: 19.7cm
  • Thickness: 4cm (approximate)
Production typeUnique
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'E R' (Embroidered in the centre within the Order of the Garter, initials for Elizabeth Regina )
  • 'E. R.' [above the crown] (Embroidered)
  • 'DIEV . ET . MON . DROIT' (Motto of the royal family of Great Britain. Found here on on a label below the Order of the Garter.)
  • 'S B K' [unclear] (Initials over the ground)
  • 'M B A' [unclear] (Initials over the ground)
  • 'HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE' (Motto of the Order of the Garter.)
Gallery Label
British Galleries label text: POUCH with the arms of Elizabeth I About 1600 This pouch may have contained sweet-smelling herbs thought to help induce sleep and ward off sickness. It shows the Tudor arms with the English lion and Welsh dragon as supporters. The initials 'E.R.' are for Elizabeth Regina (Queen Elizabeth I). The other initials are probably those of the family who owned it. Linen canvas embroidered with silk, silver and gilded silver thread Embroidered in England Given by Mark Oliver Museum no. T.91-1972
Credit line
Given by Mark Oliver
Object history
Formerly in the collection of Sir Frederick Richmond
Historical context
Pouches such as this contained aromatic herbs which were thought to help induce sleep and ward off sickness. The modern equivalent is known as a 'dream pillow'.
Subjects depicted
Summary
The presence of the royal coat of arms does not necessarily denote that an object had a royal owner. Usually, it was a profession of loyalty to, or a symbol of patronage from, a particular monarch. The initials which surround the armorial are probably those of the family who owned the pouch.



This pouch probably contained sweet-smelling herbs, which were thought to help induce sleep. Pleasant scents were also believed to help to ward off sickness, with a prime example of the use of this theory being the ‘beak’ masks worn by plague doctors from at least the seventeenth-century.



The richness of the materials used in the object’s production suggest a wealthy source, and the somewhat naïve execution of the design points to an amateur craftsperson, possibly a child, as its maker. This would not have been unusual, as even aristocratic girls were expected to learn needlework as a means of education, instilling discipline, and as a means of expression.
Collection
Accession Number
T.91-1972

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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