Object name


Date made

Circa 2000-2020

Place made


21st-century Chinese silk painting embroidered by Joni Zhou (Zhou Xueqing), based on a still life painting by Cornelis de Heem.

Content description

Chinese silk painting embroidered in the 21st century by leading embroiderer Juni Zhou (Zhou Xueqing). The picture is an embroidered rendition of a still life by Cornelis de Heem (1631-1695). The entire embroidery is worked in long and short stitches on a black silk background, which is covered in a series of black straight stitches in a variety of directions.

At the bottom of the picture is a table, possibly marble, with a curved detail at either end. On the right hand side of the table is a gold pocket watch and chain and in the centre a bunch of six ripe cherries on a stem, with four cherry tree leaves. Behind the cherries is a rounded cut glass vase with a series of circles running horizontally around the widest part of its bowl. The vase contains peonies, roses and convolvulus. The peony is cream-yellow, with the forward facing flower fully out with a bud and one yellow flower not fully out, also forward facing. On the left-hand side are yellow roses with their leaves, one facing down and two facing backwards and a cream rose behind the peony. On the right-hand side is a blush rose with three rosebuds facing right and backwards. Lower down is a white rose and two blush roses facing outwards. Twisted through the arrangement are some blue and yellow convolvulus-type flowers and buds with a spray of three flowers and foliage protruding at the top of the arrangement. On the right-hand side amongst the blush roses is a variegated grass, which could be Phalaris arundinacea var picta, commonly called Gardener's Garters.

In the bottom right-hand corner is an embroidered signature in a calligraphic style from ancient China called Zhuanshu (篆书). It is often used for signatures that look like seals, such as is the case here. The signature reads, "Zhou Xueqing" (周雪清).

This embroidery is a copy of a still life commonly identified as having peonies, cherries, and a watch, painted by Dutch artist Cornelius de Heem. de Heem painted it in 1680 and it is now in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Though it is often identified as featuring a variety of peonies, it seems that several of the flowers are actually roses. Zhou's embroidery uses the Su (Suzhou) embroidery technique which originated in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. A dying art that was regenerated by the Chinese government in the 1950s, Su uses meticulous and intricate embroidery and a vibrant colour palette. It often draws from the natural world, showcasing flowers, birds, and landscapes in highly realistic detail. Embroiderers employing this technique have started to introduce more random stitches rather than parallel but in this work the more traditional style has been used. A very similar version of the same painting has been embroidered by Chen Qunying.

Joni Zhou is a leading 21st-century embroidery artist from China. She is the four time recipient of the gold medal in the Chinese Hundred Flowers awards and has exhibited extensively within China and also in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Zhou specialises in interpreting centuries-old paintings from all over the world through embroidery.


width: 82.5cm
height: 100cm





Credit line

Gift of Joni Zhou, 2020.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 2561
© Royal School of Needlework