Oreiller or pillow cover

March, 2011

Oreiller or pillow cover

Maker unknown
Oreiller or pillow cover

Circa 1700-1720
Marseilles region, France
Kathryn Berenson Collection of French Quilts, 2005.018.0003

In the early years of the 18th century, French nobles sought the designs of Jean Berain (1638- 1711), showing architectural motifs, arabesques and exotic imagery, to enhance their interior decor. This pillow cover worked in corded needlework was made for use in a luxurious setting, probably an aristocrat’s bedchamber.

The central motif is a handled latticework basket of flowers surmounted by a chinoiserie (a decorative style inspired by China) canopy and set within an architectural ornament of corded lines, all drawn from an adaptation of a Berain design. Outside this pavilion, stylized floral forms trail in arabesques over a ground filled with diagonal corded lines.

The border holds another series of sinuous herbaceous forms. Hand-stitched eyelets on the outer edge (not shown) served to hold the lacing that affixed this frontal piece to a backing, thus allowing it to be removed and laundered.

Made of two layers of mousseline or fine percale worked in miniature scale broderie de Marseille (corded needlework) in the running stitch at 24 stitches per inch.