Betrothal Tray/Basket, English 1659
Glass beads on linen
thread and fine wire, lined with silk. Artist/designer
Height 11 cm Width 46.5 cm Depth 36 cm
VIcoria and Albert Museum, London, Number T.69-1936
Examples of beadwork
that can be associated with makers whose names and dates
are known suggest that they were usually made by teenage
girls from affluent families. Their function is uncertain.
They may have been used as layette baskets, which held
baby clothes, because they are similar in form to silver
examples. But it has also been suggested that they were
made to celebrate betrothals or used at wedding ceremonies
to hold gloves, sprigs of rosemary or other favours given
to guests. Most examples depict a couple as the central
motif. All of the design elements may be found in silk
embroidery on domestic furnishings of the period.
basket is made from glass beads strung on linen thread
and fine wire, supported on a wire frame lined with silk.
Beadwork keeps true, clear colours, an advantage over
coloured silks and wools, the usual materials for embroidery.
A beaded cushion in the V&A dated 1657 bears the inscription
'natvrs flowers soon doe fade ful long we last cavse art vs made'.
Ownership & Use
Another beaded basket of identical design exists, with only the
name and date different. This suggests that it may have
been worked from a type of kit, or possibly made to commission
as a gift, with the recipient's name added.