This enchanting piece of 18tth century needlework has many elements in it that one can find in 17th century pieces. Our stitcher used applique to create the draperies of the bed hanging. Upon the felt background she embroidered long wool stitches to mimic fabric folds.
She also used the technique of stuffing the felt prior to stitching it onto the backing fabric. This type of work created a rounded and sculptural valance for the table.
Our young lady was fashioned from several types of stitching techniques as well. The stitcher appliqued a piece of fabric onto the figure to represent her shoulders, neck, face and hair. This addition was then carefully painted to portray her features and hairstyle. The whole added applique was stuffed somewhat to give it a more raised effect. Her feet are in the most adorable wool shoes with black laces that have their own presence in this picture.
Her costume was appliqued on as well with felt and embellished with hand-dyed pink and cream hand-spun wool yarn. This yarn was also used for the cover of the stool and for the flowers in the brown wool carpeting. Her hand is resting on an open book that resembles a diary with blank pages. Next to the book is an ink bottle with a large feathered quill pen stuck into it. Above this vignette is a wonderful hanging bird cage, with the bars of the cage done with single wool strands closely spaced.
A window was created with long stitches made to look like the wood frame around the panes of glass. There is a chair off to the right done in both applique and long and short wool stitches. The skirt of the bed was done entirely in long and short stitches with the fine hand-spun wool yarn.
The needlework is housed in its original 18th century turned oval wood frame with a narrow gilded gesso border on both the inside and the outside of the oval. With much good fortune, this piece retains its original hand-made glass with its bubbles and waves.
On the original wood backing board is an old label of the framer that our stitcher chose to frame her work. It reads: “Stringer, Carver, Gilder, and Picture Frame Maker. St. John’s Bridge, Bristol, Makes Glass and Picture FRAMES, of all Descriptions; Gerandoles, Brackets, and Every Other Article in the Above Branch from Designs of the Plainest Kind, Style of the First Fashion and Elegance.” As wonderful as this original 18th century paper label is, someone added a hand-written date directly upon the wood. In large numerals it reads: “179(?).” (The last number is illegible.) This give us another indication of its 18th century origin.
The needlework is in excellent condition overall. There are several very small places in the background wool that seem to be missing the nap of the wool; perhaps an insect was able to get into the case at some early period. In addition, there is some fading, especially with the lighter colors. I have had the frame restored because of early insect damage to it, so it now again adds to the decorative appeal of the piece..
It measures 8-1/2 inches wide by 10-1/4 inches high, including the frame