Collection Online

Embroidery (Firescreen)

linen, silk thread
56.0 × 56.3 cm
Place/s of Execution
Accession Number
International Fashion and Textiles
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Mrs A. B. Kelly, 1972
Gallery location
Not on display

A bouquet of naturalistic twining flowers, including roses, honeysuckles and chrysanthemums tied with a ribbon, was a popular decorative choice for firescreens and upholstery in the 1760s. Similar floral designs appeared on printing patterns produced at Spitalfields, London, and were laden with symbolism. The colourful butterflies placed at random add a note of personal whimsy to this unconventional half-finished piece, perhaps chosen from one of the many illustrated miscellanies of natural history issued by print sellers such as John Overton, or copied from life.

—text from Exquisite Threads (Apr 2015)