In our previous post, we discussed the difficulties in dating a piece of embroidery and explored the use of color as a technique to meet that goal. In this post, we will examine the images on the cushion cover for clues about the date of this piece.
There are a surfeit of spot motifs of flowers, animals, insects, and fruit which don’t provide any context around period. But there are two images that are important: the ships in the lower right and left hand corners, as well as the upper center image of a fashionable young man. We'll save the discussion of the young man for our next post.
Turning our attention to the ships: they are detailed in their construction and number of sails and would have presumably have been inspired by a drawing or engraving. More importantly, they fly three flags: two flags of the Cross of St. George (red cross on white field representing England), and one Cross of St. Andrews (white X on a blue field representing Scotland). The Cross of St. Andrews would not have been flown during Elizabeth I’s reign, only being added once James Stewart ascended to the throne in 1603. Given this, we can give a terminus post quem (earliest possible date) as 1603.