In the biblical story, the widowed former princess, Ruth is gleaning wheat when she meets her next husband, the wealthy farmer, Boaz, in his fields. In this pretty romantic needlework interpretation, Ruth is kneeling before Boaz, who is signaling that she can keep the wheat she gleaned. The stitcher has stitched the entire piece in shades of gold, pink and blue soft, fine wool yarn.
The costumes are particularly well done in long and short stitches with shading in all the appropriate places. The wheat fields are also long and short stitches, though varied in direction to make a more interesting picture. The hills and mountains were done in blue in the background, adding to the attractive color combinations. The large tree to the left of Boaz was shaded in browns with blue and gold leaves throughout. There is a sprig of wandering flowers in front of the tree, very prettily embroidered in pinks, blues and creams.
Boaz’s dog is right beside and looking up adoringly at him. The dog was wonderfully stitched entirely padded embroidery that puts it in high relief. This stitch is one of the earliest stitches that comprised stump work in 16th and 17th century embroideries. It is done by taking small stitches and directing them in the same direction, and then going over each stitch several times back and forth until it becomes raised from the silk and appears as if padded. Wherever it was used in early embroideries it adds considerable interest to the feel and enjoyment of a piece.
As was the style of the period, the faces, hands and feet of the figures were finely painted in watercolor. Even the curled locks of hair were done in great detail, showing Ruth’s hairstyle of a braid going around the back of her head and a blue headband.
This early 19th century needlework is housed in its original wood and gesso frame with eglomise and gilded glass. The frame has been bronzed at some time or another, therefore the finish is not the original. The frame had elaborate roundels in each corner at one time, but the upper two are now missing; consequently the frames has had restoration in these corners. There also are missing a few pieces of the decorative gesso border. The original glass makes up for much because it was hand-made, with its original wide gilt border and star-shaped decorations in each corner.
Although there is no damage to the wool needlework in the way of staining or losses, there are some splits in the background silk, which is common for early silkwork embroideries. The fragile nature of silk makes it more likely to split, especially after some 200 years.
With its romantic subject matter, beautiful color palate, fine woolwork stitching, original frame with its eglomise glass with gold accents, this piece would be a charming addition to any needlework collection.
It measures 20-3/4 inches wide by 18 inches high, including the frame.
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