Panel from a table carpet showing the Four Continents, the Seasons, and Four Planets
between 1662 and 1680
Linen and silk satin, embroidered with silk and wool, passementerie of silk thread, silk-wrapped parchment, and metal
36 1/8 x 87 1/4 in. (91.8 x 221.6 cm)
Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964
Not on view
These embroidered panels were probably the two ends of a decorative table carpet. The practice of covering tables with precious textiles began in Europe in the thirteenth century, when some imported pile carpets from the Middle East were considered too fine to be walked upon. European personifications of the Four Continents were frequently employed to confer honor and authority on a specific ruler. In this instance, the crowned couple representing "Europe" resembles King Charles II of England (r. 1660–85) and his Portuguese wife, Catherine of Braganza (1638–1705), suggesting a prominent position for England in a global context. The motifs of the Seasons and the Planets refer to the passage of time.
William Randolph Hearst ; Irwin Untermyer , New York (until 1964)