17th Century: basket 1660

CIRCA 1660

Item auction page at Christie’s

Depicting a pair of figures with spot motifs of plants animals and insects, the borders with further figures and flowering plants, some damage to the sides
13 in. (33 cm.) wide

Previously sold Christie’s South Kensington, Costume and textiles, 14 December 2006, lot 3260.
A similar basket dated 1659, is in the Victoria Albert Museum, No. T.69-1936

17th Century: basket 1659

Charles II era basket, 1659

Link to Sotheby’s listing

Beadwork baskets were special creations, as they were not for any practical purpose, and are often decorated with celebratory imagery. They were often created to mimic the forms of silver christening baskets. This example could be commemorating a wedding, as fruit and foliage are often suggestive of fecundity. Beads began to be imported from Venice and Amsterdam around 1630, and they were instantly popular since they were interpreted as symbols of the exotic.

A basket with a similar composition and also worked in beads and depicting Charles II and Catherine of Braganza in the center is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (39.13.1).

Overall in excellent condition. Decoration to faces is now lacking due to loss of silk thread. Some beads are lacking, minor restorations. Silk lining restored and the beadwork base replaced.

Height 8 1/4 in. by Width 13 1/2 in. by Length 22 in.

Signed MARY BLOMFIELD/ ANNO 1659, reverse with a label printed International Art Treasures Exhibition Assembly Rooms Bath 1973 Exhibit No. 158.

Provenance: Christie’s, South Kensington, July 14, 1992, sale 4716, lot 162.

Exhibited : International Art Treasures Exhibition, Bath, 1973

17th Ventury: basket 1660

Charles II era basket, 1660

Link to Sotheby’s listing

Mounted on wooden boards, the slanted sides worked in brightly coloured beads depicting a genteel couple with silk faces and hands flanking a manor house with mica windows; the sides with female allegories of the senses with silk faces and hands, flanked by a camel, leopard, stag and unicorn and flowers and insects; the external sides covered in green silk brocade with silver-thread ribbon borders

Height 4 in. by WIdth 19 in. by depth 14 1/2 in.

In good conserved condition with scattered losses to beads primarily around top edges. Canvas backing to bottom panel with minor buckling, and wear and discolouration to raised work commensurate with age, with some re-working to faces. Later green silk and metallic thread borders with minor wear and discolouration consistent with age and use. Colour in catalogue photos is generally accurate; overall colour perhaps slightly more grey under certain light.


Sir Frederick Henry Richmond, Bt (1873-1953)
Christie’s South Kensington, An Important Collection of Needlework, June 23, 1987, lot 118
Garry Atkins, London


Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Milwaukee Art Museum, Strung, Woven, Knitted and Sewn: Beadwork from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, November 21, 1997- January 18, 1998

17th Century : basket 1660

Charles II era basket, 1660

Link to Sothebys listing

Mounted on wood, depicting a King and Queen worked on satin ground flanked by a tent and houses; the sides with flowers, fruits, trees, a deer, leopard, kingfisher and parrot and covered on the outside with green silk; raised on a base decorated with insects and flowers

Wear, losses, discolouration and oxidation to satin ground commensurate with age, and scattered losses to beadwork. Later green silk in good condition. Colour in catalogue photos is accurate.

Height 3 3/4 in. by Width 16 in. by Depth 12 in.


Mary Bellis, Hungerford
Christie’s London, The Mary Bellis Collection, May 21, 1987, lot 76
Leslie Maas

17th Century: basket 1670

CHARLES II era basket, 1680

Link to Sotheby’s listing

Multi-coloured beads worked on a cream silk ground with openwork sides; the base with a raised-work courting couple flanked by a leopard, lion, castle, pear and orange trees; the sides and handles in blue and white with flowers in each corner; with a protective Perspex case; losses and restoration to openwork

Height 5 1/2 in. by Width 21 in. by Depth 18 in.

Scattered losses and minor oxidation to beads throughout, with some splits to wires in pierced trellis sides, and one section restored entirely with white beads; visible in catalogue photographs. Raised work panel with losses and disclouration to silk ground and scattered losses and lifting to beadwork elements, consistent with age. Metal frame slightly mis-shapen in places, commensurate with age and handling.

Provenance: Leslie Maas


Milwaukee Art Museum, Strung, Woven, Knitted and Sewn: Beadwork from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, November 21, 1997- January 18, 1998

17th Century: basket 1662

Charles II era basket, 1662

Link to Sotheby’s Listing

Scattered losses to beads, visible in catalogue photographs. Metal handles and frame slightly mis-shapen in places with consequent light undulating to beaded panels, consistent with age and handling. Beaded ribbon borders surrounding bottom of basket slightly lifting in places with small losses.

Height 7 in. by Length 18 1/2 in. by Depth 13 1/2 in.

Initialed MB and dated 1662 on a white beaded ground, the base depicting a man and woman flanking the Royal Oak with the face of Charles II surrounded by deer, a leopard, dogs and a fox; the openwork sides and handles worked in multicolor stripes; some losses

Provenance: Alistair Sampson Antiques, Ltd., London


Milwaukee Art Museum, Strung, Woven, Knitted and Sewn: Beadwork from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, November 21, 1997- January 18, 1998

17th Century: Basket, 1650-1700

Beaded basket, English, 1650-1700

V&A Accession number T.41-1946 | link to item page @ V&A

Basket beaded in green, yellow, blue, red, white, and orange within a glass case. The beadwork depicts Susannah and the Elders with a lion, leopard, and kingfisher on the bottom of the basket, framed by the sides of the basket which are composed of leaves, flowers, and fruit trees.

Dimensions of case: : 240mm W: 655mm D: 550mm

17th Century: 1659 Basket

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.
Link to item @ V&A

Materials & Making
The 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.

1659, English; Signed Sarah Gurnall
set with the maker or recipient’s name : sarah gvrnall avgvst 24 anno 1659

  • Height: 11cm
  • Width: 46.5cm
  • Depth: 36cm

17th Century: Beadwork basket, c. 1675

Said to have been made by Elizabeth Clarke (1655-99) when she was about twenty years old. These baskets may have been made to celebrate betrothals and used to hold gloves or sprigs of rosemary given to wedding guests.

Liz Athur’s “Embroidery 1600-1700 at the Burrell Collection.”
London: John Murray, 1995. ISBN: 0-7195-5413-6

Thanks to: Lady Karen Larsdatter