Although there were many silkwork needleworks depicting pretty young women sitting with farm animals, each one seems to be slightly different from one another. In this piece, the way that the stitcher depicted the trees and shrubs sets it apart.
The large tree above the girl has huge leaves that were done in thick, soft yarn with a complicated embroidery stitch. It is a raised stitch that utilizes an understitch over which the wool yarn is wrapped around several times until the desired depth is achieved. This third-dimensional effect sets an elaborate tone for the entire piece and shows the expertise and skill of the stitcher, which can be compared to earlier, 17th century stumpwork.
The shrubs surrounding our seated young lady were done in exquisite French knots and the same type of stitch as in the tree, but on a smaller scale. The pair of lambs resting by her side were also done in soft wool yarn in French knots that certainly resemble real wool. They were shaded in gray and cream with touches of gold to help convey a realistic presence to this work.
The girl’s colorful dress was beautifully embroidered in long and short stitches with shading to create folds in it. It was done in soft pinkish red and soft pink. The collar was also done in long and short stitches. She is holding a small basket of flowers in one hand, with the basket embroidered in wool, while the flowers were embroidered in silk. She placed two roses on her collar from the flowers that she had gathered.
It appears that the hand holding the basket was painted on silk, cut out and then appliqued on top of the flowers to create a more realistic effect. Her large-brimmed hat was done in both long and short stitches in wool and in silk. The underside of the brim was done in silk floss, as was the ribbon tied in a bow under her neck. The top of the hat was done in wool yarn. Her hair and facial features were finely painted in watercolor as was the style of the day.
The needlework picture was placed in a wood and gesso frame with a gold mat. The frame is not original to the piece but suits it quite well.
The condition of the needlework is excellent, especially considering its age of over 200 years. There is an old imperfection in the original hand-painted silk background that must have occurred during the time the needlework was done as the imperfection in the heavy textured fabric has the original watercolor paint work on it. Much of the wool yarn appears in its natural color; that is, without any dye to it. The hand-spun wool yarn that has color, such as that in her dress, was dyed in vegetable dyes. The color retention is wonderful. There is no staining or insect damage.
The frame is in excellent condition, although I feel it might have been one made in the last century. In this case, it might have been that the piece was inherited without a frame and framed by relatives at a later date.
It measures 14-1/2 inches wide by 17-1/2 inches high, including the frame.
Late 18th/Early 19th Century Silkwork and Woolwork Embroidery of Young Lady and Sheep
$395 $465 SALE