A CHARLES II STUMPWORK AND SILK AND SILVER THREAD-EMBROIDERED WRITING BOX
THE PROPERTY OF A LADY
A CHARLES II STUMPWORK AND SILK AND SILVER THREAD-EMBROIDERED WRITING BOX

CIRCA 1660

Details
A CHARLES II STUMPWORK AND SILK AND SILVER THREAD-EMBROIDERED WRITING BOX
Circa 1660
The hinged lid with the scene of the Judgement of Paris surrounded by birds and animals, the underside of lid with silvered paper border framing a removable mirror over open and closed compartments, pen tray, a pair of pewter inkwells and a pen box, the removable tray revealing a well covered with a hand-colored print depicting the Journey to Emmaus visibly reflected through the mirrored lid and three sides, the front with a hinged door enclosing three short and one long drawer on brass feet, the sides and front with courtly figures, all worked on a silk ground with silk and silver threads in various stitches, feet possibly replaced, the back with geometric design
8¼in. (21cm.) high, 13¾in. (35cm.) wide, 11¼in. (28.5cm.) deep

Lot Essay

The central oval to the lid depicts the mythological scene of Paris awarding Venus with the Golden Apple over her competitors, Athena and Hera. English embroidery as worked by the ladies of the house would often depict biblical scenes conveying appropriate lessons on the role and status of women in society in accord with the Protestant teachings of the day. Cautionary tales, such as the Judgement of Paris that warned of the dangers of Vanity and the choice of earthly pleasures over more Godly pursuits, were also typical. Some of the more usual exemplary biblical role models depicted in such embroidery included Judith, Abigal and Susanna. Design sources for such depictions came from a wide variety of sources, including prints, paintings, enamels and even literature such as Thomas Heywood's The Exemplary Lives and Memorable Acts of Nine of the Most Worthy Women of the World.

A print source for the Judgement of Paris scene is probable as indicated by a box in the Burrell Collection that is embroidered with the same composition (L. Arthur, Embroidery at the Burrell Collection: 1600-1700, 1995, fig. 41-42, pp. 63-65). The Burrell casket, dated 1659, also depicts cautionary mythological scenes of Icarus' fall on another side, while the top panel shows a more usual Biblical scene of the Sacrifice of Isaac. A casket decorated with scenes for the Life of Isaac, like the present casket, opens to an interior with a mirror beneath the lid and an arrangment of wells and compartments above a fall-front with drawers (illus. X. Brooke, The Lady Lever Art Gallery: Catalogue of Embroideries, 1992, pp. 179-181). Though the latter casket is decorated with biblical scenes, the interior also displays a hand-colored print to the central well as with the present casket.

See illustration opposite contents page for detail of the top.
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