Charles I or Charles II? – The Feller Mirror


The Feller Textile Collection was the result of a lifelong interest in antique textiles, ranging from tapestries and embroidery to lace and costume, by Michael and Elizabeth Feller. Their collection included some of the finest examples of British hand embroidery, as documented in the books of Michael & Elizabeth Feller: The Needlework Collection by Elizabeth Feller, Jacqueline Holdsworth, and Mary M. Brooks.

In 2021, Michael and Elizabeth Feller sold many items from the collection at their home Upper Slaughter Manor in the Cotswolds, including some 300 samplers and textile embroideries, dating from Charles I to the time of Queen Victoria.

See a virtual tour of Upper Slaughter Manor, the home of Micheál and Elizabeth Feller

One of the highlights of the sale was a 17th century silkwork mirror frame, which Phillipa and Laura purchased for the purposes of study and replication and to allow embroidery enthusiasts to share in the wonders of this incredible collection. We immediately set about organising an extended course for those wishing to focus on silk embroidery.

We are delighted that Kate Barlow took up the challenge, and is currently teaching the first students during a year long course. If you are interested in this course, it will be repeated in 2025. You can read more about the course here.

Although the mirror frame was catalogued by the auction house as depicting Charles II and Catherine of Braganza, suggestions have been made by our current students that the King and his Queen could be a different royal couple – Charles I and his queen, Henrietta Maria.

The king in the frame has a beard and hairstyle similar to Charles I, and not at all like the extravagant curls that his son, Charles II, became known for.

Henrietta Maria was often depicted in artwork of the time with orange trees, which were used as a device to pay visual homage to her powerful Florentine ancestors as well as represent the family’s own renowned citrus tree collection. A symbol of purity, chastity, and generosity, the orange tree was also associated with the Virgin Mary, Henrietta Maria’s patron saint.

What do you think? Leave a message below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Feller Bird – a 3-day class offered by Kate Barlow beginning on 11-13 May 2023 (4pm-10pm GMT) and 14-16 May 2023 (9am-3pm GMT).

The Feller Bird – 3-day class with Kate Barlow

During our Lady Anne’s Festival this year, we will be offering a one-off 3-day course with Kate Barlow, who is taking a brief interlude from the extended course to bring students of the festival a one-off taster of the wonderful Feller Mirror.

Offered in two time zones beginning on 11th and 14th May respectively, Kate will teach the Bird shown perched in an Orange tree which sits proudly in a central position at the top of the frame. This design is one of twelve individual motifs arranged and embroidered around the glass. Students will learn historic Elizabethan silk embroidery techniques such as natural and tapestry shading using long and short stitch.

Sign up now to be part of this unique opportunity to experience this incredible silkwork frame. Book now

7 Responses

  1. Johnson Joni Marie says:

    Charles I and Henrietta Maria. It looks like she is holding a sheave of wheat—a sign of fertility which would be appropriate since they had several children. Charles Ii and his wife were childless and generally darker skinned and haired than the other couple.

  2. Judy Owen says:

    I do think that Charles 1 and Henrietta Maria are more likely, although the figures may be completely fanciful.

  3. Mrs. Ainee C. Beland says:

    I have no idea of which depiction but it is a lovely mirror to be had and made and to put something in the frame after it is done; totally amazing and such talent. Good luck to all who undertake this; I am simply in awe!

  4. Genie Posnett says:

    The Saint Louis, Missouri, USA Art Museum has a portrait of Charles I, by Daniel Mytens that is very, very similar to the mirror’s embroidery.

  5. Rowena Cooper says:

    Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria. Reasons: the beard, too many portraits of Charles I in existence to be anyone else. The King’s hair: Charles I wore his own hair all his life, parted in the middle. The collar: a high linen collar usually with an edging of Flemish lace, Charles 1 favoured this type of collar often seen in his portraits. The Orange tree and its association with Henrietta Maria is also a really good clue!

    Charles II did not wear a beard, he favoured a moustache alone. At the time of the restoration of the monarchy in 1659/60 Charles II brought two fashions to Britain from Europe, where he had been living, the wearing of the enormous wigs which he favoured, and the wearing of Flemish Bobbin lace which the rich wore to display their wealth.

  6. Claire Dean says:

    Apart from any of the symbolism which is of course very important these two look like exactly like portraits of Charles I and Henrietta Maria and nothing like Charles II and Catherine! Also, I would say, although a little unusual, the clothing is more reminiscent of the earlier period as well and the hair styles of both match images depicted in portraits.

  7. Linda Parr says:

    I concur with Rowena Cooper.
    The beard seems to be a strong factor.
    It would be interesting to go back to the auction house and ask why they felt sure enough to catalogue – now our interest is piqued, the whole provenance becomes very interesting.

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