Collection Online

Writing box
(c. 1665)

wood, silk (thread), velvet, metallic thread, mirror, glass, silk, pewter, paper, lead, hand-coloured engraving, seed pearls, mica, gilt-brass, leather, cotton, brass, (other materials)
(a-p) 36.6 × 66.0 × 37.2 cm (overall)
Place/s of Execution
Accession Number
International Fashion and Textiles
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1972
Gallery location
17th Century & Flemish Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Among the most complex of seventeenth-century embroidered objects were caskets, designed to hold precious objects such as jewellery, writing equipment, cosmetics and keepsakes. Decorated with a range of entertaining and instructive biblical stories, the main image on this casket’s lid, Rebecca offering water to Eliezer, is derived from an engraving by Marten de Vos published in 1585. The tale of Rebecca focuses on her act of kindness and compassion which made her a desirable wife. In creating embroidery illustrating this tale, a woman simultaneously imbibed and demonstrated contemporary ideals of femininity.

—text from Exquisite Threads (Apr 2015)