Tapestry: The Arming of the King

Designed by Bernard Partridge (English, 1861–1945), Borders designed by John Henry Dearle (1860–1932), With Reverend E. Dorling (English), Woven by Morris & Co. (English)

Object Place: England


Overall: 330.2 x 431.8 cm (130 x 170 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wool and silk, tapestry weave

Not On View


Europe, Textiles and Fashion Arts



The original drawing entitled “The Arming of the King” was published in Punch on June 7th, 1911 to commemorate the Coronation of George V. It was from this that the artist, Sir Bernard Partridge, gained the commission in 1912 to prepare the cartoon for the tapestry. The tapestry depicts George V dressed in a suit of armour and wearing ermine robes. He is attended by four hand-maidens who individually symbolize Fortitude, Wisdom, Justice and Peace. The King stands with his right hand resting on a table bearing a charter sealed with the Royal Seal of England, and upon a dais with a carpet woven with depictions of the Royal plant of each nation of the British Isles. The border is of particular importance, both for its decorative value and due to the inclusion of heraldic devices of Kings and Queens of England, from Edward II (1307-1327) onwards. Queen Mary visited Merton Abbey during the weaving of the tapestry, and commented favourably on the likeness of the King’s portrait.


1914 until at least 1922, Morris and Co., London [see note 1]. January 22, 1986, anonymous ("property of a gentleman") sale, Christie's, London, lot 191. Acquired on the London art market by S. Franses and Co., London; 2002, sold by Franses to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 20, 2002)

[1] See Linda Parry, "The revival of the Merton Abbey Tapestry Works," Journal of the William Morris Society, vol. 5, no. 3 (Summer, 1983), p. 19 and p. 22, n. 9.

Credit Line

Charles Potter Kling Fund