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Embroidered Bed Cover, 1707
Signed "SW"
London, England
Wool and linen on linen ground
Lent by a private collection

Affluent women, young schoolgirls, and professional embroiderers, alike based their work on printed patterns from published design books. This bed cover features patterns that closely resemble those in a design book by John Stillwell, a publisher whose shop stood on London’s Russell Street. Though woven in wool rather than exotic silk, this piece evokes the Orient by featuring Chinoiserie figures with parasols and feathered hats hidden at random within a forest of swirling vines and flowers. A striking example of Sir William Temple’s notion of sharawadgi, this bed cover leads the eye through a maze of delightful and unexpected imagery.