Decorated cushions, used to soften hard benches, were a popular luxury item in northern Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries. This cushion, however, has a more directly identifiable provenance and was almost certainly woven for a council memeber of the Republic of the United Provinces, created in 1588. These expensive bench cushions were made from the middle of the 17th Century for each council member for his tenure and then to keep as an honorary souvenir. The tradition of these honorary cushions became deeply rooted in Dutch society and the phrase 'op het cussen zitten' (to sit on the cushion) eventually became synonymous with 'to rule'. Some of these cushions are dated or inscribed with the owner's name while the combination of coats-of-arms indicate the exact position of a member within the council. A cushion made for a States General, bearing eight coats-of-arms, and dated 1740, is in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (C. Adelson, European Tapestry in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 1994, pp. 377-382, cat. 23), while a further panel nearly identical to that, from the collection of Major-General Sir George Burns, K.C.V.O., C.B., D.S.O., O.B.E., M.C., North Mymms Park, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, was sold, Christie's house sale, 24-26 September 1979, lot 490.
Adelson notes that only two major Dutch workshops are documented as making cushion covers at the time: Franois Coppens (d. 1743 of Delfte and the widow of Alexander Baert and her sons, who had a large enterprise in Amsterdam.