One might think that the hundred-year-old English Arts & Crafts box (shown above) is old. The inspiration for its carving, however, is many, many times older. The box is inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, a 230 foot long embroidery made in the 1070’s. It was commissioned to celebrate the Norman Conquest during which the English king, Harold Godwinson, was defeated by Duke William II of Normandy (France) who was later crowned William the Conqueror. The piece (which is not technically a woven tapestry but, rather, an embroidery) depicts 50 scenes from The Conquest ending with the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings (in 1066). The tapestry was “re-discovered” in 1729 at the Bayeux Cathedral, in France, where it periodically had been hung on display. Despite its name, the embroidery was made in England, not France, and is considered a treasure of Anglo-Saxon artwork. The fact that it has survived (nearly) one thousand years is a miracle in itself. Today, it is displayed in a museum near the Bayeux Cathedral.
This English Arts & Crafts wooden box, made around 1910, is hand-carved with Norman soldiers and a mounted lancer. It was common for Arts & Crafts designers (worldwide) to seek inspiration from their ancient folklore, artifact or history. In Britain, this source of inspiration is sometimes ancient Celtic motifs, sometimes Medieval poetry, or sometimes the history of the early Monarchy (as in this case).
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