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St. Barbara

  • Object:

    Embroidery

  • Place of origin:

    Bohemia (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1900 - 1936 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen embroidered with silk and silver thread; wood and printed paper

  • Museum number:

    T.13-1937

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Picture of St. Barbara, silk and silver thread embroidered on linen in split, long and short and satin stitches, with couching.

St. Barbara, crowned and with a halo, stands wearing a reddish-brown dress and a blue mantle, her body bent slightly to the left. In her left hand she holds a large tower with a pointed roof, and in her right a palm leaf symbolising martyrdom. There is a sliver lozenge diaper background. At the foot there are trees growing on small pale blue hills. The whole is framed with a pale blue, pink and white check border. The embroidery is stuck down on a backing made from two flat wooden boards joined together and interleaved with printed pages of Latin text.

Place of Origin

Bohemia (possibly, made)

Date

1900 - 1936 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Linen embroidered with silk and silver thread; wood and printed paper

Dimensions

Height: 40 cm, Width: 29 cm

Object history note

Purchased by the V&A for £90 in 1937 from Herbert N. Bier (Registered Papers: 711/1937).

When this piece entered the Museum it was thought to date from the early 15th century, part of a group attributed to a closed convent in Cheb, Bohemia. However, following discussion in 1938-39, it was decided that the piece was almost certainly of modern production, owing in part to the presence of jute fibres in the canvas. Jute was not traded in Europe until the early 17th century. Colleagues from the Schlossmuseum in Kassel and an independent conclusion from curators at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, who had received an Annunciation scene from the same group, confirmed the V&A’s fear that the piece was probably not genuine (Registered Papers: 2626/1939).

Intriguingly, it was noted on entry to the Museum that ‘the working especially in the face, where the split stitch runs in circles about the mouth, is unusual’.

Descriptive line

Embroidered picture; St. Barbara holding a tower; possibly Bohemia; probably 20th century in 15th century style

Materials

Linen; Silver; Silk; Wood; Paper

Techniques

Embroidering; Couching

Categories

Textiles; Embroidery; Christianity; Fakes & forgeries

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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