To hide undesirable features in the Victorian home, and often to just put their needlework at eye level, pole screens were used and became fashionable throughout one’s home. There were many patterns available for the ambitious housewife to embroider in fine wools, often with silk embellishment. Some of the most popular ones featured garden flowers or birds, both domestic and exotic.
This fine piece of early Victorian Berlin woolwork embroidery would have started out on a stand and a pole. Chances are, as in many types of antiques, the stand with its pole somehow got separated from its exquisitely carved top. It must have functioned on its own for many years as a wall piece, as there were old fasteners on the back.
It is difficult to look at without being overwhelmed by the dark, elaborately carved rosewood frame. There are scrolls and leaves enough to delight any admirer of antique wood carving.
As wonderful as this carving is, you know of course know it was the beautiful finely stitched woolwork embroidery, embellished in silk, that captured my heart. To say that this is a charming Victorian rendition of popular subject matters would be a gross understatement, for there is something really enchanting about this piece of embroidery.
The old Victorian colors of pink, red, green and blue with hints of gray, coral and ivory blend together in a way that both enriches the composition and defines it. The flowers are placed in a cornucopia and spill out at all angles. Some of the flowers are on long stems that curl down the canvas and also soar toward the bird’s head.
The exotic bird has plumes on its head and pretty breast feathers, along with sumptuous back feathers that find their end in long plumed tail feathers. Its wings are outstretched in excitement, providing further interest in this wonderful depiction.
The background was intentionally left blank as was the style in Georgian and early Victorian embroideries. This enabled the principle subject matters to stand out, becoming almost third dimensional in appearance.
The condition of the embroidery and the original frame is excellent for their age. There is overall all age toning to the background linen as one might expect for a piece that is about 175 years old. It has its original wood back which no doubt protected this fine embroidery from insect damage. The heavily carved frame has a few small losses, but this does not detract from its overall beauty. I feel there was a small leaf-shaped piece on the bottom that is now missing, but the fact that it doesn’t have a stand may account for this.
With its pretty colors, animated exotic bird, romantic theme of flowers in a cornucopia with the bird perched on the stems and its fabulous hand-carved Victorian rosewood frame, this piece demands a great spot in your home.
It measures 19-5/8 inches wide by 24 inches high, including the frame.
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