This beautiful needlework panel dates from the early 18th Century Queen Anne period. The gros and petit point needlework in silk and wool includes European and Chinoiserie imagery that became incredibly popular in the late 18th Century Baroque period. Made with the finest materials it was a very rare and high status item.
At first glance this looks like a purely decorative scene, but it hides a meaning which would’ve been clear to early owners. At the centre of the scene the figure of Old Father Time draws the figure of Truth and two companions in a chariot. They remind us not to fall prey to earthly pleasures and vices during our short (in the early 18th century even shorter) time on earth. The ladies look back towards a man and woman, perhaps representing fame, standing by a church while in front an attendant holds a parasol over a figure wearing a turban. The scene includes a mix of European buildings such as the windmill, church and house surrounded by a coconut palm tree and a brilliant blue sky filled with exotic birds, transforming a moral tale into something fashionable and decorative for a wealthy home.
Mrs Gubbay, whose collection this screen is from, was very interested in this style of decoration and collected it in a variety of items across porcelain, furniture and textiles. The subjects were fantasies based on what westerners thought people, objects and scenery might look like in China and the ‘far east’.