This wonderful piece of woolwork embroidery derives from a pattern that I’ve only seen once before. That one came from a private English collection and was done by the owner’s great ,great-grandfather while at sea. Other than this one and a few that were in this collection, the pattern does not appear regularly; it is extremely rare.
The flowers were stitched both in satin stitch as well as long and short stitches. The roses were created by outlining the petals in small running stitches and overlap stitches. These stitches, combined with long stitches, create a third-dimensional petaled effect for the roses. The other stitches, as well as the leaves, were done in combinations of satin stitch and long and short stitches.
The tapered basket was stitched in such a way as to make the appearance of a reeded basket come to life. The basket of flowers rests on a table (with charmingly out-of-proportion legs) with a cloth done in long and short stitches and the overlap of the tablecloth in satin stitch. The tile floor was expertly stitched in a checkerboard fashion using a satin stitch done on an angle with blocks of alternate color. The curtains with its swags were done in long and short stitches with a whip stitch creatively worked with red, white and blue yarn.
The soft wool yarn used in this embroidery was hand-spun and dyed with vegetable dyes. You can easily see that the wool was hand-spun by the variations in the individual strands.
The piece was housed in its original bird’s eye maple frame with gilded slip. However, I believe that it has been taken out and re-stretched more recently and put back in its original frame.
The woolwork itself is in excellent condition. The needlework has faded somewhat over the last 180 or so years. There is dramatic color retention in the reds, wines and dark greens. It is the lighter colors in this beautiful work that have experience some fading. However, this resulting soft coloration of the tapestry is part of its appeal.
The frame is in excellent condition, but it has a few small veneer losses here and there; nothing, though to detract from its overall beauty. The bird’s eye maple has developed a soft sheen, a rich red-brown color, and a gorgeous patina. The gilded wood and gesso slip has turned a very pretty lemon-yellow color, but it shows its age with overall patination.
With its fabulous and unique stitching of roses, third-dimensional effect of the basket, wonderful central overblown flowers, slightly naïve style, decorative effect of the curtain swags that help dramatically frame the picture, unusual checkerboard tile floor, soft hand-spun and hand-dyed yarn, and its wonderful maple frame, this piece would be a most charming and artful addition to any interior.
It measures 21-3/4 inches wide by 23 inches high, including the frame.