Collection Online

(King Charles I and Henrietta Maria of France)
(mid 17th century)

silk, linen, paper, metal and silk (thread), mica, pearls, coral, wood, cotton (wadding)
43.3 × 54.3 cm
Place/s of Execution
Accession Number
International Fashion and Textiles
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1957
Gallery location
Special Exhibitions Gallery
Ground Level, NGV International
A stump work embroidery scene featuring at the centre two figures fashionably dressed figures and wearing crowns. Each figure holds a sceptre and the male figure is handing the female figure a challis, a sword and orb is suspended beneath their hands. The figures stand upon a rug, in front of a tent surrounded by motifs of animals, and flowers some embroidered using raised stump work and applied to the surface, others directly onto the base cloth in satin stitch. The foreground features a pond and a fountain. The background features a castle and a manor house. Both figures are embroidered using stump work - a raised embroidery technique and then applied to the composition creating three-dimensional effect. The male figure wears a doublet and breeches of a patterned or slashed silk trimmed with lace, and a floor length cape with lining and wide collar in fur. The female figure wears a corseted dress made of silk with a large floral motif over a hip bolster, finished with lace at the neckline and cuffs. Both figures have finely carved wooden hands covered in satin. Sitting in front of the male figure on the rug is a dog chewing on a bone; along side is an animal, possibly a leopard. Along side the female figure is a deer. Three dimensional raised work is applied to the meadow in front of the castle and manor house, the tent, and animals in the middle ground, fountain, pond, and some of the surrounding flowers.

This embroidered raised-work picture, showing a couple bearing royal regalia, exemplifies the manner in which needlework could indicate the maker’s political allegiances. Thought to depict Charles I and his wife Henrietta Maria of France, it could have been made before or after the king’s execution in 1649. Following his death, a cult following developed among those who opposed his sentence as a ‘tyrant, traitor and murderer; and a public and implacable enemy to the Commonwealth of England’. Charles I was the first monarch to be put on trial for treason.

—text from Exquisite Threads (Apr 2015)