17th Century English Embroidered Caskets
English Embroidery in the Metropolitan Museum 1580-1700: 'Twixt Art and Nature

The Embroiderer's Story: Needlework from the Renaissance to the Present Day

The Embroiderer's Flowers



Stumpwork: Historical and Contemporary Raised Embroidery

These caskets are organized by the estimated year of production, and are listed by the casket’s accession number or auction number.

  • A magnificent embroidered casket dating from the first half of the 17th century, embroidered with the story of Joseph
  • V&A CIRC.468-1925, a panel probably made for a casket, c. 1640-1680; a female figure representing Taste
  • MFA 59.1033, c. 1650-1675; scenes from the story of Rebecca
  • Warwickshire H10217, c. 1650-1670
  • V&A T.223-1968, c. 1650-1675
  • V&A T.98-1929, c. 1650-1675; “On the top is a king beneath a canopy and four ovals with portraits of a man, a woman, a lion, and a unicorn. At the back is a vase of flowers, on the sides are animals, and on the doors are two symbolic figures.”
  • V&A CIRC.604-1928, c. 1650-1675, an incomplete silk panel probably intended for a casket
  • Met 29.23.1, third quarter of the 17th century; “raised-work elements depicting the Five Senses personified by fashionably dressed women accompanied by symbolic creatures”
  • V&A T.98-1967, 1650-1680, featuring silk laid work protected by sheets of mica
  • V&A 1070-1873, c. 1650-1680, marigold and poppy flowers from an embroidered box
  • Worcester City Museum, c. 1650-1680; “A lion and leopard, emblematic of courage and fidelity, are seated beneath an oak tree in the English country landscape. A parrot on a sprig of two cherries can be found on almost every similar piece. There is a curious absence of scale and no defined horizon. A rabbit appears equal in size to a caterpillar whilst flowers grow larger than birds.”
  • Hannah Smith’s casket (Whitworth Art Gallery), 1654-1656
  • Christe’s Sale 2749 / Lot 184, c. 1655; “A Charles II needlework and stumpwork-embroidered travelling casket … The domed lid and reverse decorated with floral designs, the front and sides with arched panels with elegant ladies, the blue silk-lined reverse of the lid with a removable mirror panel concealing a door with gilt inscription 1:2, the reverse of the doors with gilt inscriptions 1655 and S:C, enclosing an arrangement of drawers and two concealed drawers”
  • Embroidered casket (via Hantsweb), 1655
  • The Wilby House Casket (via Witney Antiques), c. 1660
  • Embroidered casket (via ArtFund/Museum of Lancashire) by a member of the Bourne family, c. 1660; “religious subjects from the Old and New Testaments and emblematic scenes representing the seasons”
  • Christie’s Sale 1745 / Lot 662, c. 1660; “A Charles II stumpwork, metallic thread and silk-embroidered casket depicting the Judgement of Solomon, the King seated within a pavilion with a winged angel above and surrounded by attendants, mothers and the infants in an exotic landscape, the sides with scenes showing the sacrifice of a lamb, the body of Christ within a shroud sewn by mourning women and kings in procession, with exotic animals, insects and birds throughout, the back of case with panels, the tufted pink silk-lined interior with octagonal mirrored well and open and lidded compartments and with a later mirror to the underside of lid, on ater turned ivory feet, lacking escutcheon, now within a plexiglass cover and walnut base”
  • Christie’s Sale 7920, Lot 1048, c. 1660; the story of Rebecca and Eliezer
  • Royal Collection 39240, c. 1660-1690; “A stumpwork casket with two doors and brass drop handles and interior fitted with mirror and small drawers. Top decorated with sheperdess wearing a hat with four sheep, a lamb and a dog, sitting under an oak tree.”
  • Minneapolis Institute of Arts 95.14a-bb, 1662; scenes from the story of Queen Esther
  • LACMA M.84.46.9, c. 1665
  • Met 64.101.1335, after 1665; scenes from the story of Queen Esther
  • Art Institute of Chicago 1959.337, by Rebecca Stonier Plaisted, c. 1668; scenes from the Old Testament
  • Faith and Hope casket (Whitworth Art Gallery), c. 1670
  • Met 39.13.4a–aaa, 1670s
  • V&A T.432-1990, made by Martha Edlin in 1671; “The flat lid is embroidered outside with the figure of Music dressed as a fashionable lady playing a lute, with representations of the four elements - air, fire, earth and water - in the four corners. There are areas of raised work and applied pearls. The edge of the lid is embroidered with a small geometric pattern in laid floss silks. The upper body is covered with four sloping panels embroidered with animals taken from pattern books (the lion and unicorn, hare and hound, leopard and camel, and elephant and deer) above a row of squares worked with laid floss silks in geometric patterns with flowers and birds. The initials 'ME' are applied in pearls at the centre of the sloping front. The front and sides of the lower body are embroidered with the seven virtues - Faith, Hope and Charity, Justice and Temperance, and Fortitude and Prudence. The back has a squirrel between two birds.”
  • Christie’s Sale 7909 / Lot 100, late 17th century; “A Charles II silkwork double casket … The rectangular hinged top depicting the Judgement of Solomon and enclosing a pink silk-lined interior with marbled-paper lined hinged flap for till and drawer, the hinged sloping section with alternating panels of flora and fauna enclosing a further pink silk-lined interior with a mirror and a well with three marbled paper-lined compartments, above a pair of doors depicting Abraham banishing Hagar and Ishmael, the right side panel depicting Hagar and the Angel in the wilderness, the left side panel depicting Venus mourning the death of Adonis, the rear panel depicting Adonis and the boar hunt, the interior enclosing a panel depicting three panels of two bells each above a mirrored recess lined with eight giltwood half-columns, flanked by four small drawers above a long drawer, each decorated with flowers and lined in pink silk, the underside of each drawer covered in marbled paper, on giltwood gadrooned ball feet, the underside lined in marbled paper; with its probably original oak carrying-box with hinged lid and fall-front, the sides with carrying-handles, feet probably replaced”
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art 1984-124-1, made by Elizabeth Nickholls, 1686; scenes from the story of Queen Esther
  • Christie’s Sale 5572 / Lot 203, “an embroidered casket, worked in couched silks with the sacrifice of Isaac embroidered to the front, the back depicting Esther before King Ahasuerus, beneath flowers and animals including a lion and a unicorn, the front panel centre-opening to drawers faced with salmon pink silk plush, with hinged lid and secret compartments”
  • MFA 47.227, an embroidered picture made of panels from a casket
  • Met 67.55.103, a casket top