Although I have specialized in woolworks for nearly four decades, I have never before come across this pattern. Perhaps it is just a one-off, inspired by some painting or engraving of the period and undertaken by an ambitious needlewoman. It was probably done around 1870.
I am not certain of the dog’s breed. It does have long ears and a long, curled tail. Plus, it is black and gray spotted to some extent. In any case, it is a wonderful depiction of a dog standing on a cushion.
Our stitcher made this piece from traditional counted cross stitch embroidery. She used thick, soft colored wool yarns to accomplish this. The stitches appear almost raised because of the thickness of the yarn and smallness of the stitch.
The entire background was filled in with a strong-colored red yarn. It certainly does its job of drawing one’s attention to this charming and decorative piece of needlework. The stitching is well done in even rows, with the stitching going in the correct direction as she filled in similar colors here and there. Even with the heaviness of her yarn, the dog’s eyes, nose and mouth are distinct.
One of the remarkable characteristics of this piece is its degree of color retention. It was no doubt hung in a room that did not have strong sunlight flooding over it. The red is particularly rich; the black, brown, and even the cream colored yarns are also strong colors, showing very little amount of fading.
The stitcher worked a Greek key design into her cushion. As the Greek revival in design was more developed in the later part of the 19th century, this would help date this piece to around 1870 to 1880.
It is in excellent condition overall, although there is a bit of insect damage; a few of the wool stitches seem to have been nibbled in each bottom corner. You can see the linen canvas as a result. There is also a pulled thread above the dog’s back.
The piece is housed in its original Victorian bird’s eye maple frame. The frame has acquired a pleasing reddish-brown color and a soft, lustrous patina. The molded gold slip has turned lemon-yellow and serves as an excellent accent around the woolwork dog.
It measures 17 inches wide by 13-1/2 inches high, including the frame.
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