Object name

Date made

Circa 1890-1910

Place made


Embroidered firescreen, likely dating to circa 1890-1910, featuring a peacock perching on a branch and a variety of floral motifs. Inspired by the imagery and needlework of India.

Content description

An embroidered firescreen behind glass in a carved wooden frame, likely made between approximately 1890 and 1910. The embroidery depicts a peacock perching on a curved tree branch with a variety of floral images stemming from the main branch, including flowers, buds, and leaves. While the floral imagery above the peacock blossoms naturalistically from curving stems, the floral imagery below the peacock is more ordered, blossoming from a wreath that frames the bottom of the tree branch.

The firescreen is stitched using silk and metal threads on a light cream silk satin background. The scene has a colour palette limited to creams, golds, and silvers. The embroidery is lightly padded in various places. The peacock has a padded body, legs, and face which have been stitched over with silk thread using satin stitch. On top of the padded body rough purl has been couched in scallop shapes. The wing is padded and stitched with cutwork in rough purl, as well as S-ing and couching in scallop shapes in bright check. It has been edged in pearl purl. The feathers consist of couched silk twist thread with padded elements covered in satin stitch in silk thread, cutwork, couched over long bright check chips, and couched over passing. There are also longer chips stitched in scallops shapes which would also have been couched down. What results is a pattern that almost resembles abstract acorns.

The tree branch is padded and is covered with passing thread couched using bricking. The leaves are couched silk twist and metal threads and edged with passing thread, and the flowers are satin stitch with silk thread over padding and also edged in passing. Some flowers are also filled with trellis stitch using passing thread and held down with bright check chips. It is unclear what constitutes the padding throughout the piece, but it may be a sort of felt. It is likely that a mixture of soft string, felt, and carpet felt padding have been used underneath the goldwork.

It is likely that this firescreen was made in the United Kingdom by a stitcher inspired by Indian zardozi embroidery. The colour palette and handling of the imagery gives it a roughly Edwardian feel. The stylisation of the motifs and the overall composition suggest an Indian influence rather production in India itself.


width: 53.5cm
height: 87.5cm





Credit line

Gift of Jean Panter, 2009.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 1504
© Royal School of Needlework