Lacquered Box with Silk Needlework Picture
OH: 4" x OL: 15 1/4" x OW: 12 1/4"
Silk embroidery thread on a silk ground, wood, glass, silk, metal
Acc. No. 1950-39
This is a rectangular lacquered box of molded deal frame painted black with gilt scrolls and enclosing glass-covered panels of ivory satin embroidered with silk in satin stitch in prevailing shades of cream, blue, pink and green. The hinged lid features a scene representing the discovery of infant Moses in the bulrushes. The scene shows four women and a black male servant. One woman bends toward Moses, swaddled in a crib. One woman wears what appears to be a crown made of feathers. The servant holds an umbrella above her. This scene is surrounded by a floral border. At the bottom is a small cartouche with "ARYE 1702" written within it. The front of the box shows an exotic-looking building flanked by flowers. The building seems to have been inspired by the trend of chinoiserie. The (viewer's) right side of the box features a spotted leopard and lion flanking a flower. The back shows a squirrel flanked by flowers. At the ends of this panel are portions of unembroidered silk. These portions show the underdrawing of the embroidery, ink sketches of flowers and vines on silk. The left side of the box shows a stag flanked by flowers.
Opening the lid reveals a cavern entirely lined with quilted dark pink silk. The interior of the lid is covered in the same quilted silk.
Label:This embroidered box is a later example of the embroidery that was popular in England during and after the English Civil War. While most embroidered cabinets and caskets were made in the second half of the seventeenth century, this is signed and dated "ARYE 1702." "ARYE" likely represents the initials of the box's maker, and 1702 is probably the year in which she completed the container. It was likely the final project in the needlework education of a schoolgirl, who was probably 11 or 12 years old when she embroidered the box, which would have held possessions such as letters, laces, or jewelry. The cabinet features an interpretation of baby Moses in the bulrushes being found by Pharaoh's daughter and her attendants, as well as small vignettes of stitched animals such as a squirrel, stag, leopard, and lion.