In this well-embroidered Victorian woolwork, the stitcher combined soft wool yarns with some colored Italian glass beads to help bring this cat to life. The thick wool yarn adds its own presence to the piece. She utilized the technique of Berlin woolwork counted cross stitch for the cat as well as for her background.
She chose an unusual shade of soft tangerine for her background that gives contrast to the cream, gray and black of the cat. The feline is lying on a large cushion that was embellished with some glass beads. Her tail was highlighted with the use of luminous silk floss. The cat’s whiskers were made with long stitches of silk floss that gives her a slightly majestic air.
Our stitcher used a warm brown wool to border her picture with alternating motifs of jade green, gray, blue and peach. She outlined the wide border with two edges of black yarn to nicely enclose the portrait.
The change in the dye lots may have occurred as she was attempting to create a shadow effect in the background for the cushion. She used the same dye lot toward the top of her work to create a lighter line across the top. However, the change in dye lots may, as often was the case in antique wool embroideries, have been due to simply running out of the original background color.
The embroidery is housed in a wide, flat, dark oak antique frame with a narrow, gilded gesso slip. The frame has achieved a deep, rich brown color and a pleasing patina.
The needlework is in excellent condition with good color retention and no staining or insect damage. The frame also is in excellent condition, with only a few old surface scratches. The gilded slip was repainted at one time and shows some loss of the gesso here and there.
Nearly square, it measures 19-1/8 inches wide and 19 inches high, including the frame.
Mid-19th Century Victorian Woolwork Portrait of a Striped Cat