In the 18th and 19th centuries, pole screens were important pieces of furniture designed to display ladies’ intricate embroideries. Sometimes they were quite large and had a definite function, such as to hide an empty corner or a not-so-attractive window view. Others were small and made to display a favorite subject matter. They were always custom made to fit these wool or silk embroideries. The embroidered panels that went on the pole were usually height-adjustable.
In this piece, which dates to around 1840, the subject matter is that of a classical Victorian scene combining children and animals. Our young barefoot Scottish boy is holding the results of the day’s bag. He has short, tousled hair and is in traditional Scottish costume comprised of a red plaid kilt, green plaid jacket and a colorful waistcoat. His large companion is watching over the catch while the boy carries out his hunt responsibilities.
The panel was worked in wool yarn on a fine linen ground. The woolwork was done entirely in counted cross stitch and tent stitch. The stitcher was very accomplished in embroidery as her rows are even and the changes of colored yarn were carried out well in a complicated pattern. There is much detail in the picture that help make it an exceptional piece of woolwork. The traditional color palette used is pleasing, with the colors of the landscape harmonizing well with the lad’s costume.
The needlework is housed in its beautiful, original, crested rosewood frame. There are delicately carved leaves, a sigle hanging flower and twining twigs that go elaborately around each other to create the crests above the arched frame. The stand is wonderfully carved I a traditional design with legs that scroll toward a central section. The carved base sits on top of the stand, tapering up to a point from which the pole rises behind the needlework panel. The filial, carved like an arrow point, finishes the handsome piece. The old glass is bubbled and wavy.
The condition of the needlework is excellent. There is some age toning in the back of the section of the panel that was not behind the wood backing. The acid from the wood has somewhat lightened some of the linen, leaving the area that was not touching a wood surface somewhat darker. However, this is usual for early woolwork embroideries. There is no insect damage or staining. The condition of the rosewood pole stand is excellent. I have had it professionally restored and polished. It has a deep, rich color and pretty and glowing patina.
The needlework itself inside the arched panel measures 13-1/4 inches wide by 17-1/4 inches high. The pole stand is 63 inches high.
This piece is a companion to another pole screen listed elsewhere in my shop. (See final photo.)
Early Victorian Woolwork Pole Screen of a Young Scottish Lad with His Dog
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