Woman's double cabinet depicting the story of Isaac and Rebekah, with travelling case - ROM2008_9893_7


Woman's double cabinet depicting the story of Isaac and Rebekah, with travelling case

Medium:Wood upholstered with silk satin, embroidered in flat silk floss, with silver thread and braid trim
Geography: England
Date: 1650-1680
28.5 x 20 x 24.4 cm
Object number: 979.296.5.A-R
Credit Line: Gift of Louise Hawley Stone
Not on view
DescriptionIn the second half of the 17th century, domestically embroidered pictures applied to mirror frames and cabinets became popular in England. The subjects were often taken from ancient Greek literature or the Old Testament and were intermixed with English flora and fauna. This example tells the story of Isaac and Rebekah, a theme associated with betrothal. The embroidery was probably made by a young girl. A professional cabinetmaker or joiner would then be commissioned to build the cabinet to fit her needlework. Few cabinets survive with the original protective travelling case. (On the side:) Abraham sends his trusted servant, Eliezer, to find a wife for his son Isaac; Eliezer, prompted by God, would pick the first woman who would offer him and his ten camels a drink from the well. (On the back:) Eliezer arrives with his camels and is lead to the well in the town. (On the top:) Rebekah is the first to offer water to Eliezer and his camels and so is chosen to be Isaac’s wife. (On the side:) Eliezer brings Rebekah to Isaac. (Front of doors:) Isaac and Rebekah meet for the first time. (Back of doors:) Isaac as groom and Rebekah as bride in an Arcadian garden of love, the symbol of Paradise and eternal love. (Insects, flora and fauna;) English symbols predominate as decorative motifs and include the lion and unicorn, English rose, animals, birds and insects found in pattern books, such as The Needles Excellancy (1631). The cabinet functioned as a modern day dressing table, writing desk, sewing box, jewellery box and safe. It is fitted with a slot for a comb, a pin cushion with secret drawer below, a pen tray and bottles for inks or scented water and a space for sewing supplies. The drawers below would hold precious objects. The centre embroidered panel releases up, and reveals two rows of hidden drawers. Behind the two on the right another secret drawer is designed in the back of the cabinet. All the drawers are lined with red silk.
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