Bed Cover (Iceland)

Embroidered bed cover from Iceland, c. 1700. Embroidered bed cover from Iceland, c. 1700. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. 8-1884.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a bed cover from Iceland, dating to c. 1700. Its purchase was recommended by William Morris, the nineteenth century British supporter and promotor of the Arts and Crafts Movement. He regarded this cover as a reflection of Byzantine art (although perhaps more reminiscent of Sassanian art from Iran). The cover was made by the embroideress, Thorbjorg Magusdottir (1667 - 1737). 

The cover measures 172.7 x 134.6 cm and is made of wool and embroidered with woollen threads. The techniques used are the long-armed cross stitch and eyelets, following the prevalent contemporary traditions of Icelandic embroidery. Anti-clockwise, the four images represent the Binding of Isaac (top left), Moses before Pharoah, Moses with the Tablets of the Law and Christ entering Jerusalem.

The inscriptions on the bed cover, surrounding the group of four roundels, are three verses that were composed by Páll Vídalín, the husband of Thorbjorg Magusdottir. According to the text, she embroidered the words "following her husband's instructions".

Source: GUDJONSSON, Elsa E. (1947). 'Traditional Icelandic embroidery,' Bulletin of the Needle and Bobbin Club, Vol. 31. Click here for downlading

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 25 October 2016).



Last modified on Thursday, 13 May 2021 17:26