According to the tailoring methods of the 17th century, sleeves were cut in two pieces. This panel corresponds to the under sleeve of a woman’s jacket.
It is worked in an embroidery technique called blackwork, with a single colour of silk, usually black, but also sometimes blue, red or, greenn on linen. Blackwork was particularly popular for dress accessories such as handkerchiefs, coifs, caps, shirts and smocks.
This is a very accomplished example of 17th-century blackwork in the speckling style. The arrangement of tiny running stitches in black mimics the subtle shading of woodblock prints, giving a three-dimensional effect to the pattern. The design is also very skilful in its naturalism, particularly the insects depicted. Grasshoppers, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, caterpillars and beetles, along with a single spider’s web enliven the embroidery.