Unknown French Workshop, 1780-1800
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The European love of beadwork rose in the Seventeenth Century, and by the Eighteenth Century, this expensive technique became available to a wider audience as many workshops in England, Italy and France produced small items glistening with glass beads. In France, the medium was often found on delicate purses. French workshops produced some of the finest multi-colored beadwork in Europe during this period. These French craftsmen used beads in conjunction with other techniques, to highlight parts of an embroidered pattern. The most expensive examples were made with a single bead for every stitch, producing a dense beaded surface.
This purse is an excellent representation of the fine beadwork produced in France in the Eighteenth Century. It depicts a figure of a woman in a garden, leaning on a plinth with a rolled parasol in her right hand and a small dog at her feet. The purse was made in four sections, each bearing an allegorical figure, one representing Justice, with finish-work of pink silk cords and tassels. It was made between 1780 and 1800.