Plant Symbolism in the ‘Rainbow’ Portrait and the Bacton Altar Cloth

Flowers in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras could mean lots of things, some of them quite complex. Many portraits from these periods depicted sitters holding or wearing fresh flowers and plants, and/or wearing clothing that was decorated with floral designs. Some scholars have looked at their meanings and interpretations, and the way that the imagery of flowers generally, and even of specific species of plant, … Continue reading Plant Symbolism in the ‘Rainbow’ Portrait and the Bacton Altar Cloth

The Bacton Altar Cloth

The Bacton Altar Cloth is an extraordinary example of what appears to be very high quality English late 16th or early 17th-century embroidery, in polychrome silks and gold wrapped threads worked upon a cream-coloured silver chamblet silk (or cloth-of-silver). This textile, which may once have formed part of a garment of some kind, has been cut and reworked at some point in its long life … Continue reading The Bacton Altar Cloth

Restoration-style (1660s-1680s) Shift, Smock or Chemise

The shift (or smock, or chemise) was a basic linen undergarment worn by women throughout the early modern period. Some examples of seventeenth-century shifts survive in museums and collections, and you can find examples and details about a few of them in books like Patterns of Fashion 4 and Seventeenth-century Dress Patterns. However, so far there is very little surviving physical evidence known to scholarship … Continue reading Restoration-style (1660s-1680s) Shift, Smock or Chemise

Jacobean ‘Cottagecore’: Cultural Meanings of Floral Imagery in the Seventeenth Century

Laura Ashley prints, pastoral themes in Romantic literature and art movements like Pre-Raphealitism, Art Nouveau, Baroque and Arts and Crafts have left modern viewers of art and textiles with cultural ideas about the meaning of floral embroidery and floral imagery which would not have featured in the conciousness of a Jacobean audience. Our impressions of the beautiful scrolling floral embroidery at the turn of the … Continue reading Jacobean ‘Cottagecore’: Cultural Meanings of Floral Imagery in the Seventeenth Century

Needlework Pictures

The seventeenth century produced some of the most beautiful and intriguing needlwork pictures, caskets mirror frames and similar objects ever made. Many feature raised stumpwork and representations of people – biblical characters, popular characters from moral stories, and even royalty. These little figures give us an insight not just into the skill of the people who made these amazing objects, but also into the fashions … Continue reading Needlework Pictures