Unfinished cabinet panels, ca. 1660
Satin worked with silk, metal, wool thread, and silk purl; primarily couching stitches; 17 1/2 x 22 in. (44.5 x 55.9 cm)
Purchase, Mrs. Sid R. Bass Gift, in honor of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, and Rogers Fund, 1998 (1998.541)
Rare unfinished pieces of embroidery like this one can reveal much about the process of planning and executing needlework. In this case, the squares and rectangles were intended to be cut out and applied to a wooden box frame to make a small cabinet. The design was drawn on the silk foundation with ink. It is likely that some details were meant to be left unembroidered, as suggested by the painted pale pink cheeks of the woman in the blue dress and her reflection in the mirror she holds. She is a personification of one of the Five Senses (in this case, sight), and she looks at her companion, the personification of smell, who holds a flower. On the left side of the panel appears a scene from the Old Testament tale of Elijah and the Widow of Zarapeth.