Many Victorian woolworks were created to commemorate the Queen’s favorite pet, “Dash,” who became so well-known and beloved in Britain. The dog was her “closest childhood companion,” according to Elizabeth Longford, author of the biography, “Victoria R.I.” It is said that following her coronation on June 28, 1837, Victoria returned to Buckingham Palace and ran up to her rooms to give Dash his usual bath. Many of the portrayals of the dog, in woolwork, paintings and sculpture, depicted the little King Charles spaniel on his red, tasseled cushion. Perhaps the most famous of these depictions is the 1837 painting by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, who shows Dash surrounded by some of the Queen’s other dogs as well as Lory, her parrot.

In this fine and large example, the woolwork was entirely done in counted cross stitch in fine, soft wool yarns. There is a great deal of silk floss used throughout the embroidery to highlight elements of both the dog and his cushion.

Dash’s fur was expertly worked to show varying shades of brown, gray, black and cream. He sports a blue ribbon collar while resting on his red and blue, tasseled cushion.

The embroideress shows considerable skill as the woolwork is in straight rows and perfect tension in her stitches, thereby making her picture more three-dimensional. As larger embroideries required a great deal of expensive, imported wool yarns and silk floss, only the wealthiest of women could afford to tackle such a project as this.

It is housed in a wonderful Victorian maple frame with a wide wood and gesso slip. The wood was cut on the cross grain, adding to its appeal. The frame has acquired a soft patina and a deep, reddish-brown color. As it is a wide frame, it sets off the needlework quite well.

The condition of the needlework and its linen backing is excellent. There is almost no discoloration in the canvas backing. The color retention of the wool yarn itself is remarkable. The silk floss has kept its beautiful, soft sheen. There is no insect damage, so the piece was well-cared for. The frame is also in excellent condition, given its age. There are a few minute pieces of veneer that have been lost over the years.

This is an exceptionally charming and highly decorative piece of Berlin wool embroidery. The quality of the work is outstanding.

It measures 27-½ inches wide by 24-¼ inches high, including the frame.


Perry-Joyce Fine Arts

Mid-19th Century Needlework Portrait of “Dash,” the Queen’s Favorite Dog

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