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A spotlight on outstanding women artists and their works in the Royal Collection

Little Gidding community

[The Little Gidding Concordances]. The Whole law of God as it is delivered in ye five bookes of Moses methodically distributed into three greate classes morall ceremoniall politicall ... c.1642

RCIN 1123464

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This casket or small cabinet is covered with long stitch needlework in silk, with a scene of figures in a landscape on the top, which opens, and a figure on each of the doors. The cabinet opens in three places and includes divisions, recesses, drawers and

Needlework casket ©

The Anglican religious community of Little Gidding in Cambridgeshire, established in 1625, was well known for its collaged devotional books. These works were chiefly compiled by the women of the community, especially the Miss Colletts, who were the nieces of the founder Nicholas Ferrar. They undertook the manual cutting and pasting together of Biblical texts and prints, and probably even the binding of the volumes. The work demanded considerable artistic skill, collaging different prints together to create new images, adding watercolour, marbling and other techniques where existing prints did not suffice. The poet George Herbert wrote that he ‘most humbly blessed God that he had lived now to see women’s scissors brought to so rare a use as to serve at God’s altar’.

The Miss Colletts were also highly skilled in needlework and embroidery, and are likely to have been responsible for the creation of the needlework casket shown here, which, according to tradition, was acquired by Charles I.