Cabinet with scenes from the Story of Esther

Date: after 1665

Culture: British

Medium: Silk satin worked with silk and metal thread, seed pearls, mica, feathers; detached buttonhole, buttonhole filling variations; French knot, single knot, laid work, couching, satin, and stem stitches; metal thread trim; wood frame; silk lining; mirror glass, glass bottles; print of landscape inscribed: "Sold by John Overton at the White Horfe in"

Dimensions: H. 9 1/4 x W. 16 x D. 11 1/4 inches (23.5 x 40.6 x 28.6 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Embroidered

Credit Line: Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964

Accession Number: 64.101.1335


During the seventeenth century biblical stories featuring heroines such as Esther, who courageously interceded on behalf of her people with her husband, the Persian king Ahasuerus (depicted on the lid), were popular as instructive examples for young women. Enclosing a mirror, the lid of this cabinet opens to reveal a tray with writing implements. The central compartment is lined with a landscape drawing, which is reflected in tiny mirrors placed at an angle, offering perspective views not unlike the interior of contemporary collectors’ cabinets. The front panels give access to tiny drawers.