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Valance for a four poster-bed

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The valance shows how tapestry might be used on a small scale. It decorated the upper edge of a four-poster bed. Its purpose was to hide the rings from which the bed curtains hung. The tapestry was woven as three strips, matching the length of the two sides (79 3/4 inches) and the width at the foot of the bed (50 1/2 inches).

The pictures here show only a small section of the whole. The foreground shows hunting scenes. The quarry, pursued by well-dressed hunters, all but one of them on foot, include deer, wolf, boar, fox, hare and, unusually for England, a bear.

At the end of each long strip placed at the bedhead was a vase of flowers between a cat and a squirrel; at the end positioned at the foot of the bed there was a wickerwork basket overflowing with fruit. The valance was attached at each corner, and met the middle section along the bottom of the bed.

There was no need for it to go behind the pillows, hidden from view.


..A much narrower upper strip was added to the upper edge, decorated with flower heads, birds and butterflies, all enclosed within a striped border. Very slightly longer than the other sections, it was woven separately, in two sections, and stitched on later. Each piece finished with a lion mask, and the pieces met so that two heads came together. The total height was 10 inches/25 cms.

The scenes are set in a somewhat idealized countryside, totally unlike the careful picture presented in the tapestry maps. Sheep graze undisturbed in rolling grassland devoid of crops, trees stand in isolation or in clumps against a sunset sky; small dwellings, sheds and castle-like buildings dot the landscape, ponds full of ducks.

The hunts are interrupted on each section by more peaceful scenes placed more or less centrally - sheep shearing on the right, an al fresco party with piping and dancing in the middle and a lone bagpiper on the left.



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

The striped border and the lion masks came to be regarded as one of the stylistic characteristics thought to belong to the Sheldon factory, known in several tapestries - for example Judith.

See Complete List


The way in which this piece was used can be seen on the great bed of Ware, http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O9138/bed-great-bed-of-ware/

And similar rural scenes appear on an embroidered table carpet


Museum Number T.117-1934

Size section one 6 ft 8 in (2.03m);
section two 4ft 21/2 in (1.28 m);
section three 6ft 8 in (2.03m);

height 10 in (0.25 m)

Wool and silk



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