This is a fascinating Berlin woolwork picture that was specifically made, circa 1840, to decorate the home. Sir Edwin Landseer did several paintings featuring parrots for Queen Victoria. Although his paintings usually included dogs, they nevertheless revitalized popular interest in exotic birds as pets.
This wonderful depiction of a young girl feeding her parrot in her garden utilizes techniques for raised wool embroidery, or plushwork. In this type of work, wool yarn is threaded through the canvas and clipped at about a half-inch away, resulting in a raised stitch that gives it a third dimension. The piece also uses beadwork, in which glass, steel and brass beads imported from Italy were used in place of wool stitches. There also is a good deal of silkwork for highlighting the child’s locks and the folds in her costume.
The accomplished stitcher of this work did the collar, face, arms and hands completely in pettipoint to give these features great detail. The bird’s water and seed cups were done entirely in glass beads. The posts, railing and garden fence scrollwork were also accomplished in beadwork, and the child is wearing a double strand necklace made entirely of glass beads.
The background was intentionally left empty, as was the style of this type of early Victorian needlework. By leaving the linen background blank, the woolwork depictions come out on a different plane and therefore are more prominent.
The overall condition of this piece is excellent considering its age of nearly 180 years. There are some lost beads here and there. The linen background is age toned, but this adds to its antique character. There are some very good areas of color retention; namely the blues, reds and the browns. However, some of the more pastel colors have faded somewhat.
It is housed in an antique frame, although I do not feel it is the original. It may be either late Victorian or Edwardian. It is a wood and gesso over-gilded frame with much decorative detail. It is missing some of its beaded detail in a few places; however, most of it is in the original condition. The gilding has turned a pretty, soft gold color that compliments well the colors in the woolwork embroidery.
Because of its rarer plushwork, elaborate beadwork, silkwork embellishment, pettipoint embroidery and fine woolwork counted cross stitch embroidery, in addition to its sentimental Victorian subject matter, this is an exceptionally charming piece of antique needlework.
It measures 25-3/4 inches wide by 27-3/4 inches high, including the frame.
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