Judith tied in knots

28 Jul

unknown, “Embroidery panel: Judith with the head of Holofernes ,” c.1650-1675, silk, metal in tortoiseshell frame,                 42 x 53 cm, Burrell Collection, Pollok Country Park, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Although difficult to see from a computer image, this is one of the leading pieces of 17th century British embroidery from the Burrell Collection.   The raised work panel is high quality design and needlework that depicts Judith dressed in an antique costume holding a Really Large head of Holofernes, surrounded by a wide border with the scene of numerous woodland creatures.   In the background is a detailed village, including the tent with Holofernes’ body.

Having been an accomplished needleworker myself, viewing this panel brings to mind a cozy evening scene around the fire in the mid 17th century like this:

Henrietta Marietta:    Have you seen the maroon embroidery silk?

Wilhemina Josephine:   I was using it on the wolf but I put it back in the embroidery chest.  Why do you need it?

Henrietta Marietta:   I am working on the decapitation and I can’t decide what color to use.

Wilhemina Josephine:  Yes, decapitation is difficult to embroider.   Crimson makes the blood look fresh, but perhaps too vivid.   Maroon is more likely to suggest the blood has dried.

Henrietta Marietta:   Thank you for that suggestion.  You are always so clever about the nasty bits.

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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Story


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