Cabinet with personifications of the Five Senses, 17th Century

British Cabinet with personifications of the Five Senses, 17th century, Image Source:  https://www.metmuseum.

What Is Stumpwork?

“Raised work, or stumpwork as it is sometimes called, developed in England during the early seventeenth century, and was characterized by its high relief. The technique was used to create pictures and to decorate objects such as storage boxes for jewelry and writing supplies, baskets, and mirror frames. This box is typical of raised-work pieces in that it employs a variety of stitches and includes the use of metal thread and other materials, in addition to colored silks. The faces of the five women representing the Senses are drawn in ink on satin, and the figure of Sight holds a mirror made of mica that reflects her face. Other unexpected materials were frequently used to highlight details: real hair for a figure’s head, tiny seed pearls for a necklace, and glass beads for animal eyes.” metmuseum


British Cabinet with personifications of the Five Senses, 17th century, Image Source: https://www.metmuseum, (detail)

What Common Themes are Used?

“Allegorical and biblical subjects, along with portraits of monarchs, were the most common themes for the decoration of a seventeenth-century box. Of the seven complete and partial boxes in the Museum’s collection, the majority show biblical scenes, although these are sometimes combined with depictions of the Senses or the Seasons.” metmuseum,


What Materials are Used?

Medium:  Satin worked with silk and metal thread, purl, chenille, seed  pearls, coral beads, and mica; tent, knots, rococo, satin, couching, and detached buttonhole stitches; woven metal thread trim; silk and paper lining; wood frame; turned wooden feet

Classification:     Textiles-Embroidered

Credit Line:  Rogers Fund, by exchange, 1929

Image Source:  https://www.metmuseum.

Read More:  The MET

Click for Enlarged Detail




“Raised work had a rather short period of popularity and was at its peak during the mid-seventeenth century. The creation of raised-work boxes, mirror frames, and pictures ceased to be a fashionable occupation by the turn of the eighteenth century, if not sooner. metmuseum,

More Information


Great Britain and Ireland, 1600-1800 A.D.

British Cabinet with personifications of the Five Senses, 17th century, Image Source: https://www.metmuseum, (detail)

Needlework Detail

Go to this page at The Met to see photos and descriptions of some of the details of the handwork and stitching.

The End

Thanks for reading! 🙂

2 Comments Add yours

  1. JMN says:

    The gradations of color in the threads to create modeled surfaces are extraordinary. The details show it well, especially in the plants. These objects look like they might have required almost hallucinatory dedication to fabricate. A beautiful craft, too short-lived perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I admire anyone who has the patience to learn a skill like that. I wonder how many hours it took to complete…. The world has certainly changed, so I am delighted this little slice of history gets to live on at The Met. Thanks for visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

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