1570~, Sheffield

1570~, Sheffield

Presented by Art Fund
0.5 cm (depth)
27 cm (height)
27.5 cm (width)
Production time
Production place
Type of object


Textile panel of embroidered linen canvas with silk, gold and silver threads in cross stitch. Object Type
Making up large decorative hangings from a number of smaller panels, which were then applied to a sympathetic background material, was a popular pastime for well- to- do ladies in the 16th century. The process allowed for a group of women to embroider the individual panels at the same time. If required, the hanging could be dismantled at a later stage and the panels re-used.

Surviving embroideries owned or worked by royalty can rarely be identified. Some of the numerous embroideries worked by the doomed Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) during her imprisonment in England bear her initials or cipher. This activity must have both filled her time and occupied her mind, since many of the emblems or mottoes used have more significance than is immediately apparent.

Subjects Depicted
The central part of this panel is based on the woodcut Echinops ( from the Greek Echino for sea urchin) in Conrad Gesner's Icones Animalium Aquatilium ('Pictures of Aquatic Creatures') of 1560. Since there are no identifying initials or cipher for Mary or her captor Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury (1527- 1608), it is likely that this piece was worked by one of the ladies of the household. British Galleries: The various creatures were copied from books. 'Boate fishe' was the English name given to a sea urchin, illustrated in an early reference book by Konrad Gesner (see photograph). The embroiderer has copied Gesner's cross-section of the sea urchin, cutting the corners to fit it into the cross shape, and adding a title and the heads of four fish. [27/03/2003] Textile panel 'The Oxburgh Hangings' of embroidered linen canvas with silk, gold and silver threads, probably made in Sheffield, ca. 1570