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The exquisitely detailed silk and gold thread needlework sets the Queen in a garden with symbols of Eros, red roses (sacred to Venus) and eglantines (symbols of purity).

It may have been applied to the front of a burse – a presentation purse of sweetmeats or money – which courtiers were obliged to give to the Queen as New Year presents. The profusion of symbols of courtly love suggests a gift from an important favourite to Elizabeth, or vice versa, made by one of the professional court embroiderers (who were invariably men).

Such a portrait of the Queen in needlework is unique, and the price paid rivalled that of painted miniatures.