Over the years I have found a few needlework pieces with this wonderful and charming design. Its origin goes back to a painted “Berlin Plaque” by Mrs. Emily J. Broughton that was displayed by the Minton company at the Paris Exhibition in 1877. (“Miller’s Guide,” 1985, p. 181.) Mrs. Broughton is a listed London portrait artist who exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Society of British Artists between the years 1878 and 1882. But she seemed to have worked at the Minton china factory as an artist at some time, for an 1877 edition of “Harper’s New Monthly Magazine” noted that she “is…entitled to a very high position in the art of decorating majolica and china.” Over the years I have seen Minton chargers and the like that are signed “E. Broughton.”
This colorful woolwork rendition was done in the late 19th century entirely in tent stitch. The design was centered so that the entire piece of needlework runs almost all the way to the edges of the canvas, and hence, the frame.
The stitches all run in one direction for the most part. They are even in straight rows, with attention on the thread just enough to make it design easy to discern. The scene of the young girl feeding her pet deer, her spaniel begging for attention and the boy surrounded by dogs is the type of romantic and idyllic scene popular in Victorian times.
Both principle figures and the animals are worked in fine colored wools in tent stitches typical in works from the late-19th century. The stitcher placed a double stitched camel-colored wool border around the piece to define the edge of the picture. The piece is housed in a modern black and gilt frame that was copied from earlier 19th century Hogarth frames. I believe that the canvas was stretched at the time of this framing.
The needlepoint is in excellent condition overall. There are only a few lost stitches due to wear, probably prior to framing. The picture has faded somewhat, but this has made the colors slightly softer. There is still quite a lot of color retention in the dark cobalt blues, reds, pinks, greens, browns and black. The frame is in excellent condition, with only a few missing bits.
On the back of this large, decorative picture is a vintage label from The Crescent Moon, 67 Crouch Street, Colchester, Essex. The firm states that its specialties were: “Picture Framing; Print Cleaning; Mount Outting.” A picture label also reads: “Fine Art Trade Guild.” We can reasonably assume that this company was responsible for the stretching, mounting and framing of this wonderful piece of antique needlework.
It measures 22-1/4 inches wide by 25-1/4 inches high, including the frame.
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