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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

27: Embroidered panel depicting Arcadia

The sound of the shepherd’s pipes and the bleats of his sheep can almost be heard alongside the clucking of the hens around his female companion, in this seventeenth- century embroidered panel. The smells of roses, cornflowers, cowslips, thistles, and honeysuckle waft through, and we can see edible strawberries, peas-in-pods, and bunches of grapes. This complex domestic embroidery, specially conserved for Feast & Fast, is unusual in its focus on flora and fauna, rather than scenes from the Bible, Classical history and contemporary events. All is well in this rustic Arcadian idyll, in which creatures live happily side by side. Humankind is in complete harmony with nature, and its sustenance assured without the need for hard toil.

Unknown embroiderer, likely a young woman, England, mid-17th century

Linen with silk and metal threads

Given by Mrs W.D. Dickson (T.1-1933)

Embroidered panel depicting Arcadia
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