Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Garden of Eden, last quarter of 16th century
    English
    Velvet worked with silk and metal thread; appliqué, tent, long–and–short, split, stem, satin, chain, knots, and couching stitches; 22 1/2 x 80 in. (57.1 x 203 cm)
    Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.1284)

    This panel was one of a set of three valances probably used to decorate the tester of a bed. Small elements—fruits, flowers, and leaves—were worked in tent stitch on canvas and then applied to the dark velvet foundation on which was worked the river in the Garden of Eden, the figures of Adam and Eve, and God the Father, in polychrome silk and metal threads. The garden is monumental, almost overwhelming the figures. The three trees that anchor the composition would have brought to mind the biblical description of trees in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The scene of Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden on the far right may also derive from a reading of contemporary vernacular English Bibles, rather than any pictorial convention. Adam and Eve wear garments that suggest articles of late Elizabethan dress and the Geneva Bible of 1560 referred to their first clothes as "breeches." In this and other embroidered renderings of the story of the expulsion from Eden, Adam and Eve are treated more gently by God and the expelling angel than they are in contemporary print sources.

    Related


    Not on view
    Move Separator Print
    Close
  • Garden of Eden, last quarter of 16th century
    English
    Velvet worked with silk and metal thread; appliqué, tent, long-and-short, split, stem, satin, chain, knots, and couching stitches; 22 1/2 x 80 in. (57.1 x 203 cm)
    Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.1284)

    Macro image, magnified 30 times

    Attention to detail is characteristic of embroideries of this period. Natural forms were represented with elaborate combinations of materials and techniques. This fish is worked in a variety of stitches including long and short, split, stem, satin, chain, knots and laid and couched stitches. The open mouth displays fierce teeth worked in satin stitch and couched stitches in fine filé are worked across the pink inside. The eye and lips were outlined with black silk thread and filé. The foundation fabric is exposed in the center of the eye. The remains of thread suggest that a glass bead, now lost, may have completed this lively depiction.

    Macro image, magnified 30 times

    Many of the motifs in this panel were worked on separately and appliquéd to the black silk velvet. The linen foundation fabric used for the figure of God the Father is visible where there are missing threads. The cross around God's neck was embellished with a bead. The bead's faceted surface and clear red color have a jewel-like effect and enhance the polychrome silk and metal elements of the robe.


    Move
    Close