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Unknown, English
The Restoration of King Charles II
circa 1665
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For centuries, needlework was a popular way of telling stories about people, their experiences and circumstances. However, like cartoons today, embroidered panels or stumpwork would not just show one image or one situation but would present a series of moments and events simultaneously to create a narrative.

Looking at this panel, what can we see in this portrait that will teach us of King Charles II and his life?

This 17th-century work of art, from the period after the Civil War, celebrates the return of the monarchy and the coronation of Charles II as King of England on 8th May 1660. However, as we look at the panel, Charles is portrayed four different times in the panel but only once as King.

During the English Civil War of the mid 17th century, King Charles II was forced to flee from the Parliamentarian forces. Illustrating incidents from his escape, the panel shows the Prince hiding in a large oak tree at Boscobel House with one of his officers from the defeated Royal Army. In the top right corner King Charles, disguised as a servant, is fleeing on a horse, accompanied by his mistress Jane Lane, who was instrumental in organising his escape. In the foreground to the left, he is finally King, openly wearing his crown and royal robe, fashioned from cream silk and pearls, while waving his right hand. At the top left of the panel, above Boscobel House, the sun is appearing from beneath dark clouds, a suggestion that the stumpwork celebrates the monarchy's return to England.

Considering the amount of detail, symbols and scenes depicted in the panel its size is surprisingly small. About the size of an A3 piece of paper, its considerable detail carries evidence of its maker’s fine skill and patience as well as the importance of the subject.

What material and technique would your pupils choose to tell the story of their lives? What events would they choose to include, and which would they leave out?
The contrast between the flat needlework and raised embroidery creates a sense of perspective and sets the most important scenes and figures in the foreground. The raised surface is achieved by stitching over areas padded with wool, cotton or even wood. Minute features such as hair and the details of clothing were often created separately as individual wire-mounted pieces of embroidery before being added to the panel. Often, the motifs for details such as animals, flowers and insects were taken from pattern books, and appear on many other samplers and embroideries of the time.
Unknown, English  The Restoration of King Charles II   circa 1665
Materials and technique: Embroidery on white satin fabric: raised work or 'stumpwork' panel
Dimensions: 31.7 x 39.6 cm
Holburne Museum: F236
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