Table cover, Linen embroidered with silk, Spanish or Portuguese

Table cover

late 16th–early 17th century
Spanish or Portuguese
Linen embroidered with silk
L. 97 x W. 66 1/2 inches (246.4 x 168.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. W. Bayard Cutting, 1945
Accession Number:
Not on view
The long and narrow proportions of this intricately embroidered cover indicate that it once adorned a table in an Iberian household. The brilliant yellow silk designs of scrolling vines, flowers, and birds contrast with the natural linen ground, echoing Bengali embroideries made for export to Portugal and Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The easy flow of the design and variety in stitch type, however, identify this cover as European-made. The overall composition of the embroidery on the table cover—a large central field surrounded by a series of outer borders—is the same as the basic format found on carpets made in the Islamic world, including Spain when under Muslim rule (711-1492). This design format was later transmitted around the world via Spanish and Portuguese colonial administration and trade.
Mrs. William Bayard Cutting (until 1945; to MMA)