1550 / 1600, London

1550 / 1600, London

54 cm (height)
109.2 cm (width)
Production time
Production place
Type of object


Cushion cover embroidered, 1550-1599, English; Grotesques British Galleries: The cover is a rare survival of the best English 'Grotesque' work. This kind of ornament originally used on wall-paintings was rediscovered in the 16th century during excavations of ancient Rome. It was introduced to England through prints. Here the natural world seems to change before our eyes: herons and ostriches become fantastical birds, masks and sphinxes make up the borders. [27/03/2003] Object Type
This cushion cover with its up-to-date design and rich materials would have provided a sumptuous and colourful cover for a chair or bench.

Ownership & Use
Although nothing is known about the family who owned this cushion cover, it is possible that they had travelled to Italy and were thus aware of the excavated ancient wall-paintings in Rome that inspired this type of design. It is equally likely that they used a designer who was keeping up with with current international taste.

Design & Designing
Although arabesques, strapwork and other elements of Renaissance ornament were known to English designers, they were seldom used in their pure form. Usually they were combined with specifically English motifs or modified to suit the current English taste for more naturalistic design.

Materials & Making
This style of embroidery belongs to a group in which rich woven fabrics were applied to one another and embellished with minor details in silk and sometimes metal thread and sequins.