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71

PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR

A Charles II embroidered casket, second half 17th century
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71

PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR

A Charles II embroidered casket, second half 17th century
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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A Charles II embroidered casket, second half 17th century
worked in polychrome silks in a variety of stitches, including finely worked knots, with some silvered thread detailing and metal purl, the casket side panels (not visible in the catalogue photograph) embroidered depicting: a unicorn flanked by a large flower and house and picket fence, a small blue beetle and a butterfly; a huntsman with horn pursuing a hound chasing a hare, with large flowers, a tree and insect; the back with a monkey and a fox, with flowering stems and a central oak tree, all with knot work clouds and hillocky foreground, all edges applied with silvered braid; the opened lid lined coral coloured silk and inset with a mirror plate applied with saffron yellow ribbon surround, the casket containing small square compartments, two holding later glass containers, the third with coral covered material dividers, together with a larger square, drop in, open box lined internally with a hand coloured print depicting New Testament Biblical subject of the Miraculous Draft of Fishes, the sides lined with mirror plate and applied with later gilded columns in each corner and centre, a later attachment to the centre of the print is a brass square from which four metal rods emanate, each supporting a small feathered bird, a small bird rests on the central square, the outside of the square container covered in marbled purple and white paper, when removed reveals a coral silk lined recess, and access to two small hidden drawers under the front small compartment, all within a large box removable to reveal studded, padded coral silk cushion base, raised on small lobed feet; (within a glazed wooden presentation box)
Casket including the feet: 16.5cm. high, 27cm. wide, 21cm. deep; 6½in., 10½in., 8¼in.
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Provenance

The box is considered to date from the time of the marriage of Anne Trafford (d.1671) to Fisher Dilke of London (d.1690), whose only child, also Anne, married Clement Boehm, Director of the Bank of England, (Highly successful Protestant banking family in London in the 1730s, which had fled from Normandy to England after the Huguenot persecutions in 1685), grandparents of Sir Clement Trafford (d.1786), baptised in 1738, High Sherif of Lincolnshire who assumed the name of Trafford after that of Boehm;
Mrs Jane Baker, of Portland Place and Ovsett Hall, Essex, only daughter of Sir Clement Trafford;
Margaret Elizabeth Trafford Southwell, of Honington Hall, Gratham and 19 Princes Gate, who assumed the name of Southwell in 1849 in compliance with the testamentary injunctions of her aunt Mrs Jane Baker;
Thence by descent;
Sold Sotheby's, London, 5 June 2007, lot 102

Catalogue Note

Out of the various areas of textile production, it was embroidery that remained domestically produced. It was a task considered appropriate for the home, and was undertaken by women of all levels of society, from daughters of professional families to aristocratic women including Bess of Hardwick. The techniques were learnt by completing samplers and developed on to more elaborate pieces used for clothing and as decoration for luxury items, the skills to be admired and the subject matters serving as moral lessons. Subjects being naturalistic, pastoral and often being biblical, and at this time of political and religious upheaval, and loyalties were implied through the inclusion of particular figures. Several included crowned figures of Kings and Queens, representing Charles I or Charles II and Henrietta Maria or Catherine of Braganza. Paradoxically these embroidered panels depicted biblical subjects, which at this this time aroused controversy. The top panel of this offered box has two figures, not crowned, which could be interpreted as being a representation of  The Temptation of Adam and Eve, with the fruiting tree placed between them. Mary M Brooks, English Embroideries of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, in the Collection of the Ashmolean Museum, London, 2004, for discussion on collectors, makers, sources and stitches, and illustrations of the specific pieces in the collection. 

There was a great demand for rich materials and elaborately ornamented pieces and also a fascination in the natural world.  Pattern books emerged which had a great influence on design. An Italian, Federico Vinciolo published a pattern book, which due to popularity had to be constantly reprinted. European printers were all influenced by each other. In England illustrations in herbals were initially the source for inspiration, which later in the 17th century were supplied as patterns by the print sellers and merchants marked satin panels with the designs which could be purchased, worked by the embroiderer in the techniques and colours she desired, and then could be brought back to the merchant to be made up into the caskets which could be individualised to the requirements of the client with regard to the contents of the casket.

An extremely influential English book and print seller, was John Stent (born c.1615-1617) who had by 1662 accumulated the most extensive and diverse stock of engravings of any of his English competitors or predecessors, publishing at least 218 different plates of natural history subjects which were used by artists, teachers and embroiderers and were available at different prices, as broadsheets or as books including a three part work, A Book of Flowers, Beasts, Birds and Fruits, in three parts, 20 leaves in each l’art. See Alexander Globe, Peter Stent London Bookseller Circa 1642-1665. Stent’s inventory included that of earlier engravers and printers, including Thomas Johnson’s work of 1530, and most importantly he was indebted to the four-part natural history work engraved by the German Jacob Hoefnagel, and designs by his father, printed in 1592, Stent also commissioned and used new designs by Wenceslaus Hollar, John Dunstall and John Payne and Johann Sibmacher all producers of pattern books.  See Cora Ginsburg, A Book of Flowers, Fruits, Beasts, Birds and Flies, 17th century patterns for embroiderers, Curious Works Press, USA, 1995, for reproductions from Stenton's Third Booke of Flowers, Fruits, Beastes, Birds and Flies, drawn with additions by John Dunstall, 1661, where pl.VIII, shows a similar version of the ape and strawberry used in the present casket design.

Michael Snodin and John Styles, Design and the Decorative Arts, Tudor and Stuart Britain 1500-1714, Victoria and Albert Museum Publications, London, 2004, pg.138.pl.24, illustrates a page from Richard Shorleyker, A Scholehouse for the Needle, 1632, showing  running bands of patterns for embroidery which were characteristic motifs of English embroidery. It is rare for the name of the embroiderer to be known, and an embroidered casket in the Victoria & Albert Museum Collection, is recorded to have been embroidered by Martha Edlin (aged 11), in 1671, illustrated, op.cit. Snodin & Styles, pl.21 and was worked with panels including the lion and unicorn, and hart and a rarer motif of an elephant and shows the stylised floral motifs, such as those used on the presently offered casket. Another public collection example has the initials I (which is old English for J) P. and R.S are on a back panel with entwined hearts, and a secret compartment contained a paper slip identifying the maker as Rebecca Stonier Plaisted (who later married John Plaisted), is dated to 1668, and also has bands worked including  the lion, unicorn and hart motifs, illustrated in Christa, Thurman, Textiles in the Art Institute of Chicago, New York, 1982, pp.72-73. Both these examples include raised and detached work and are highly skilled technical achievements.

Lanto Synge, Art of Embroidery, History of Style and Technique, The Royal School of Needlework, London, 2001, Chapter Five, The Seventeenth Century, pp.110-159, Embroidered Pictures and Stumpwork, pp.131-143, discusses the technique, manufacture and subject matter of these panels, illustrating examples of which were used used on mirrors or made up into the caskets.

A similarly conceived but deeper casket than the offered example, with mirrored and braided lid, and casket with an internal square mirrored recess, and compartments for two glass containers, and ink and sand recesses with lids, was illustrated in Country Life, 3 June 2004, pg.147, from Whitney Antiques, Oxfordshire, with a provenance of having been presented to Jane Lane, later Lady Fisher, at the Restoration to commemorate her epic journey in 1651 from Staffordshire to Somerset riding pillion.

For other recently offered larger embroidered caskets, designed as compartmentalised workboxes, with tops lifting to reveal a mirrored internal lids and including containers with writing accoutrements including sand and ink containers, the fronts with two panels opening to reveal a series of drawers, see Sotheby’s London, 21 March 2003, lot 27, and another similar example was offered at Christie’s New York, 15 April 2005, lot 25, and notes a  coffer top with mirror reflecting a hand coloured transfer printed hunting scene. Other similar caskets, beautifully worked with more elaborate appliqué and raised work, were offered at Sotheby’s London, 30 November 2001, lot 3, Phillips London, 11 February 1997, and Phillips North East, 2 February 1993, this later example dated 1662 in seed pearls and the initial B.P.  All have similarly designed lockplates and are applied with the metal braid. Amongst the recurring motifs are the lion, leopard and unicorn and the oak trees.

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