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Michael Bath

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Emblems of Childbirth in the Embroideries of Mary Queen of Scots

Michael Bath

The surviving Oxburgh embroideries of Mary Queen of Scots include a damaged panel showing “A Shee Dolphin” which copies Conrad Gessner’s illustration showing “a female dolphin” in the very act of parturition. Mary’s motives for copying this particular illustration almost certainly include political and personal issues which are at play in many of her other embroideries, notably her success as a female sovereign in producing a legitimate male heir, unlike her “virgin” cousin, Elizabeth of England. Issues of sovereignty and gender can thus be shown to be of particular importance in these most significant of historical textiles

Mon, 27 Jan 14 0