The Tree of Life

Date: first half 17th century

Culture: British

Medium: Canvas worked with silk thread; tent, Gobelin, and couching stitches

Dimensions: H. 22 1/2 x W. 24 1/8 inches (57.2 x 61.3 cm); Framed dim.: H. 25 1/2 x W. 27 1/4 x D. 2 1/4 inches (64.8 x 69.2. x 5.7 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Embroidered

Credit Line: Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964

Accession Number: 64.101.1305


This unique image of a miraculous tree bearing multiple species of fruits and vegetables can be identified as the biblical Tree of Life. A multifruiting tree is described in the Book of Revelations; a tree that grows in the celestial City of God bearing twelve types of fruit that ripen during every month of the year. This association with the Tree of Life in Revelations is reinforced by the curling grape vine wrapped around the trunk of the tree, which is symbolic of the Passion of Christ and the promise of eternal life.

The addition of numerous animals and the presence of both the sun and the moon also refer to the abundance of the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis.