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Mirror frame

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1660-1680 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Border of satin, embroidered with silk and metal thread, framed in wood painted to imitate lacquer

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 6

Object Type
Mirror glass had a considerable intrinsic value in the 17th century, and the presence of a relatively small piece could be increased with a broad decorated frame. The decoration of mirror frames with a wide inner border of embroidery like this one seems to have been a popular accomplishment of amateur needlewomen particularly between about 1660 and 1680.

Design & Designing
The subjects and styles of embroidery chosen for mirror frames were close to those used for caskets, pictures, and other domestic items worked at home. Motifs were copied from pattern books and prints, or the satin panels could be bought already drawn out as 'kits'.

Subjects Depicted
This mirror has a king and queen flanking its centre, which was one of the most popular choices of subject. Sometimes they were specifically depicted as King Charles II and Queen Catherine of Braganza, and sometimes they were stock figures who could be representing King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, or other kings and queens from the Old Testament of the Bible.

Physical description

Silk and metal purl on silk; tent, satin and rococo stitches, with buttonholing, darned silk pile and couched work; parts raised by padding.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1660-1680 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Border of satin, embroidered with silk and metal thread, framed in wood painted to imitate lacquer


Height: 76 cm, Width: 61 cm, Depth: 4.5 cm

Descriptive line

embroidered, 1650-1680, English; Raised work

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.50

Labels and date

British Galleries:

From about 1660 to 1680 a popular activity for amateur needlewomen was the embroidery of frames for mirrors. The maker may have drawn out the motifs herself, or bought a ready-drawn panel. The unfinished panel shows that the maker had worked some areas in great detail before starting on new motifs. Both panels use common imagery such as the King and Queen and characters from the Bible. [27/03/2003]


Embroidery; Royalty; Textiles; Household objects; Frames


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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