Embroidered Casket

pre 1665

Gallery 40, Old Master drawings, Tapestries and Sculpture

  Related Objects in the Ashmolean
 

The Temptation of Adam and Eve

570 x 585 mm
Bequeathed by J. Francis Mallett in 1947
(WA 1947.191.308)
Gallery 38, Founder's Collection

 

In the Garden of Paradise, Eve tempts Adam with the apple that the serpent has enticed her to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (Genesis 3:6). Worked by a schoolgirl or young woman, the embroidery’s design was based on a print source, with decorative elements combined in an individual way.

Here, real and imaginary creatures appear: the unicorn for instance was a symbol of purity, while the elephant could also symbolize modesty and chastity, thus emphasizing the sinless state of Adam and Eve before their disobedience and fall from grace. The embroidery is beautifully worked in tent stitch, with metal threads highlighting special features such as the sun and the moon, and the waves of the pond.