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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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … Continue reading Needlework Pictures

Fashion and Symbolism

The Jacobean era was marked by a major trend among the elite, brought to life by the new Queen, Anna of Denmark, and her taste for court masques. The aesthetics of the design for masques, especially in the costumes of the performers, were heavily driven by symbolism and the use of emblematic imagery to give … Continue reading Fashion and Symbolism