Book Cover

ca. 1652 (made)
Book Cover thumbnail 1
Book Cover thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This binding contains the Holy Bible, printed in London in 1651, together with The Whole Book of Psalms, collected unto English Meeter, printed in London in 1652. Embroidery was much used for the bindings of religious books or presentation copies in England in the 16th century and first half of the 17th. Although new ornate covers were sometimes made for precious books of an earlier date, the embroidery here is likely to be contemporary with its contents.

Materials & Making
Book bindings were sometimes worked by skilled amateur embroiderers. The best-known examples are a series of books with embroidered bindings worked by the future Elizabeth I for her father Henry VIII and his last wife Catherine Parr as New Year gifts. The subjects and styles of embroidery chosen for book bindings were close to those used for other small items worked at home. Motifs were copied from pattern books and prints, or panels could be bought already drawn out. Most Old Testament scenes used in embroidery, including this one, were taken originally from a book of biblical stories published by Gerard de Jode in Antwerp in 1585.

Subjects Depicted
This book binding shows scenes from the Old Testament story of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael. Hagar was the servant of Abraham's wife Sarah, who was unable to have children. When Hagar conceived a child by Abraham she showed contempt towards Sarah, who retaliated with such harsh treatment that Hagar fled into the wilderness. There she was comforted by an angel, and gave birth to her son Ishmael.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 3 parts.

  • Book Cover
  • Book Mark
  • Box
Brief Description
Book cover of embroidered satin in silks, bible box, and book mark plaited with silk and silver threads, England, ca. 1652
Physical Description
Book cover of embroidered satin in silks, bible box, and book mark plaited with pink silk and silver threads. The Holy Bible is covered with embroidered white satin with seed pearls and coloured silks in split, long and short, needlepoint, outline, satin and Florentine stitches, French knots and couched work. On the front cover is Abraham seated with his dog beneath a tree, on the back cover is Hagar and Ishmael with trees, a bird and insects, and on the spine are five square compartments with animals and flowers. Fastens in the front with two pierced metal clasps.



Hard box is covered with dark blue leather and lined with blue watered silk. Inscribed in gold with 'Holy Bible / Embroidered Binding / 1651'.
Dimensions
  • Height: 15cm
  • Width: 9cm
  • Depth: 4cm
Gallery Label
British Galleries: The front cover shows the figure of Abraham. With his hand he directs Hagar, and their son Ishmael (shown on the back cover) into the wilderness. The style of the embroidery is similar to contemporary mirror frames and caskets that were worked by women at home, rather than in commercial workshops.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Sir Frederick Richmond, Bt
Production
For 'The Holy Bible', 1651-1652

Collected unto English Meeter. Printed by A.M. For the Companie of Stationers, London, 1652
Summary
Object Type
This binding contains the Holy Bible, printed in London in 1651, together with The Whole Book of Psalms, collected unto English Meeter, printed in London in 1652. Embroidery was much used for the bindings of religious books or presentation copies in England in the 16th century and first half of the 17th. Although new ornate covers were sometimes made for precious books of an earlier date, the embroidery here is likely to be contemporary with its contents.

Materials & Making
Book bindings were sometimes worked by skilled amateur embroiderers. The best-known examples are a series of books with embroidered bindings worked by the future Elizabeth I for her father Henry VIII and his last wife Catherine Parr as New Year gifts. The subjects and styles of embroidery chosen for book bindings were close to those used for other small items worked at home. Motifs were copied from pattern books and prints, or panels could be bought already drawn out. Most Old Testament scenes used in embroidery, including this one, were taken originally from a book of biblical stories published by Gerard de Jode in Antwerp in 1585.

Subjects Depicted
This book binding shows scenes from the Old Testament story of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael. Hagar was the servant of Abraham's wife Sarah, who was unable to have children. When Hagar conceived a child by Abraham she showed contempt towards Sarah, who retaliated with such harsh treatment that Hagar fled into the wilderness. There she was comforted by an angel, and gave birth to her son Ishmael.
Collection
Accession Number
T.44 to B-1954

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 27, 2003
Record URL