Furnishings

Furnishings

The British Museum in London houses a wedding mat that is made of cotton and decorated with embroidery, appliqué and shisha work. It is attributed to Banjaras from Central India. The mat measures 65 by 65 cm. It was acquired by the Museum in 1986.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses a bed cover made of silk satin with floss silk and metal thread embroidery, which was made in China in the early eighteenth century. The cover measures 330 x 235 cm. The cover goes with two other items in the Museum's collection, namely a bed (acc. no. BK-1958-20-A) and a bed curtain (BK-1958-20-C).

A Chinese bed cover now in the Victoria and Albert Museum appears to have been produced in China for the export market. It dates to sometime between 1550 and 1750. Although now of a vermillion colour, originally it must have had a brightly red ground material. The cover shows a large degree of Portuguese influence. It measures 259 x 208 cm.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a bed cover from Iceland, dating to c. 1700. Its purchase was recommended by William Morris, the nineteenth century British supporter and promotor of the Arts and Crafts Movement. He regarded this cover as a reflection of Byzantine art (although perhaps more reminiscent of Sassanian art from Iran). The cover was made by the embroideress, Thorbjorg Magusdottir (1667 - 1737). 

In northwestern Europe, between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, very elaborate bed dressing systems were developed among the elite in order to display their status. These beds were known as full-testers. They were provided with four columns at each corner, which held up a roof of some kind. There were also ‘cheaper’ versions, called half-tester beds, whereby the ‘roof’ or tester only covered the head end of the bed.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an embroidered bed tent door from the Dodekanesos, modern Greece. It dates to the eighteenth century. See also the entry on Greek bed tents.

Bed tents (Gr: sperveri) are a particular form of bed furnishing, known from the Greek Dodecanese (literally ‘Twelve Islands’) in the  Aegean Sea, close to the Turkish coastline. The Dodecanese includes twelve large (including Rhodes) and about 150 smaller Islands. 

The Bradford Table Carpet is a special canvas embroidery from the early seventeenth century (c. 1600-1615). Although it is called a carpet, it is a table covering. A 'table carpet’, such as this example, was removed or covered with a linen cloth when the table was in use. The Bradford example was originally owned by the Earls of Bradford at Castle Bromwich Hall (West Midlands, England).

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a chair seat that is embroidered in wool and some silk on a canvas ground material in tent stitch, using counted thread work. It dates to the first half of the eighteenth century and was made in England. It measures about 55 x 65 cm.

The Museum Het Valkhof in Nijmegen, Gelderland, the Netherlands, houses an embroidered cushion from the town of Nijmegen, Gelderland, which was used to present the keys of the town to Louis Napoleon (1778-1846) when he visited the place on 24 July 1808. The keys were presented by the Nijmegen mayor, J.E. Sanders van Well (1739-1814).

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London holds an early eighteenth century quilted and embroidered cot set (cot cover and two curtains, sewn together at a later date), made in England. The textiles are flat quilted (without wadding), using a back stitch with silk thread. The textiles are made of linen and lined with cotton. The cot cover measures 93 x 60 x 90 cm.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses a fragment of a cotton cloth with floral patterns embroidered in silk. It has been dated to around AD 1700 and its origin may be Iran or India. It measures 75.6 x 42.5 cm. It may belong to the same cloth as another fragment, also housed in the Rijkmuseum (BK-NM-3614).

A coverpane (also written coverpaine) is a length of fine cloth that was used to cover the bread (Fr. pain), knife, salt, spoon and the trencher (together called the place setting) for the head of a household. In England coverpanes were popular during the Tudor period (1485-1603).

The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, houses a set of ten bed hangings made and decorated for a full-tester bed. They were made in England and date to the late seventeenth century and were embroidered in crewel work by Abigail Pett, whose name is added to one of the hangings.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York houses a fifteenth century wooden crib of the Infant Jesus that derives from what is now Belgium, and was used in the town of Louvain (Leuven). The pillow and coverlet inside the crib are decorated with silk embroidery with seed pearls, gold thread and translucent enamels. The crib measures 35.4 x 28.9 x 18.4 cm. The embroidery on the bedcover shows the family tree of Christ.

The Textile Museum of Canada holds an embroidered curtain from Algeria. It dates to the nineteenth century and measures 188 x 50 cm. It is made of linen with purple-coloured silk embroidery. The embroidery was carried out on a wooden frame, using herringbone and satin stitches, and couching.

The Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin houses some cutwork curtains from Afghanistan, which were collected by Oskar von Niedermayer (1885-1948) when he was sent to Afghanistan by the German government to set up the Afghans against the British in India, during the First World War (1914-1918). The mission failed, and the German mission was forced to leave the country.

The Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin houses some cutwork curtains from Afghanistan that were collected by Oskar von Niedermayer (1885-1948) when he was sent to Afghanistan by the German government to set up the Afghans against the British in India, during the First World War (1914-1918). The mission failed, and the German mission was forced to leave the country.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, houses a piece of cloth, perhaps the cover for a cushion, which is made of cotton embroidered with silk worked in cross stitch. It measures 130 x 70 cm and is dated to the late seventeenth century. Formerly this style of work was regarded as copying knotted carpets, but some scholars now regard the embroideries as providing the original motifs.

A magistrate's cushion (62 x 62 cm) with an embroidered coat of arms of West Friesland, in the northern part of the province of Noord-Holland, The Netherlands, is housed in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. It was made in West Friesland in 1767. It is made of wool with silk thread embroidery.

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