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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1659 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Glass beads on linen thread and fine wire, lined with silk

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Brigadier W. E. Clark CMG, DSO through Art Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58, case 2

Object Type
Examples of beadwork that can be associated with makers whose names and dates are known suggest that they were usually made by teenage girls from affluent families. Their function is uncertain. They may have been used as layette baskets, which held baby clothes, because they are similar in form to silver examples. But it has also been suggested that they were made to celebrate betrothals or used at wedding ceremonies to hold gloves, sprigs of rosemary or other favours given to guests. Most examples depict a couple as the central motif. All of the design elements may be found in silk embroidery on domestic furnishings of the period.

Materials & Making
The basket is made from glass beads strung on linen thread and fine wire, supported on a wire frame lined with silk. Beadwork keeps true, clear colours, an advantage over coloured silks and wools, the usual materials for embroidery. A beaded cushion in the V&A dated 1657 bears the inscription 'natvrs flowers soon doe fade ful long we last cavse art vs made'.

Ownership & Use
Another beaded basket of identical design exists, with only the name and date different. This suggests that it may have been worked from a type of kit, or possibly made to commission as a gift, with the recipient's name added.

Physical description

The heads of the man and woman were originally painted and embrodered.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1659 (dated)



Materials and Techniques

Glass beads on linen thread and fine wire, lined with silk

Marks and inscriptions

set with the maker or recipient's name :
sarah gvrnall avgvst 24 anno 1659


Height: 11 cm, Width: 46.5 cm, Depth: 36 cm

Descriptive line

beadwork, 1659, English; Signed Sarah Gurnall

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.57

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Decorated baskets were often given as christening presents or as wedding presents. Most surviving baskets depict a couple, sometimes a king and queen, or Adam and Eve. They were made by women and teenage girls at home and demonstrate great needleworking skill. [27/03/2003]


Household objects


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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