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Defining the Style

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©V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Because there were no written clues the only means to define the style was to accept that all the sixteenth century tapestries found at Chastleton were woven at Barcheston - even though there was no direct evidence.

MORE: The flight into Egypt


The Four Seasons, detail
©Courtesy of the Marquess of Salisbury , Hatfield House

The essential characteristics of the large tapestries found there were summarized as having

Floral ground - initials or lettering - small scale scenes - eg Judgement of Paris, the Maps

Because English words appear also on five small pieces, each finished by a striped border, also seen in the Judith tapestry and on the valance, they too were called Sheldon.


©V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London T.1-1933


Several smaller tapestries contained a central scene framed by an arch.

One piece, the Flight into Egypt, carried initials T E I. Even though no one knew where it came from, it seemed possible to suppose that it too should once have belonged to the Jones family of Chastleton. This assumption added three further 'typical' characteristics, seen also in a depiction of the Prodigal Son

A central scene beneath an arch decorated with a ribbon
herm figures in the vertical borders
hunting scenes in the horizontal borders

©V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London T.117-1934

To these traits were later added

masks, as in the Sacheverell arms
lion heads, for example on the valance, Sacheverell arms

The consequence of this definition of the style was that a number of tapestries previously called Sheldon were excluded from that categorization.

MORE on Doubtful Attributions

Except for the hunts, all these motifs could be found also on continental tapestries.

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