Morrall and Watt 2008

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Cat. 5 -- book cover for Reliquiae Sacrae Carolinae, with Peace and Plenty

Cat. 7 -- portrait of Charles; "the technique seems almost to mimic the nature of the print medium from which it is derived, both formally, in the framing device, and technically, in the use of textured stitches that create light and dark patterns not unlike engraved or etched cross-hatchings" (124); "it is unusual that the embroiderer has adopted the printmakers' and painters' convention of signing his work at the bottom of the image" (124)

Cat. 10 -- book cover, Book of common Prayer, the Bible, and Book of Psalms; work of a professional embroiderer; image looks like a title page

Cat. 11 -- book cover; New Testament (1633)and book of common Prayer, including Psalms (1636); front and back show images of David; professional embroiderer; like Cat. 10, enclosed in a cartouche, like a title page or miniature; belonged to Archbishop Laud

band samplers (Cat. 18, 19) -- look like printed borders

Cat. 26 -- book cover, bible and Book of Psalms (1649); Elijah and the Widow of Zarapeth on frong, Elijah fed by Ravens on the back; amateur work, scenes in a cartouche

Cat. 34 -- gloves, lined with paper to stiffen them

Cat. 39 -- book cover; miniature of Davids Psalms (1629); cartouche with flower; similar book at Williamsburg has inscription showing it was handed down from female to female within families; book as fashionable accessory -- matching gloves, Psalms, and pincushion are at Bayerisches Nationalmuseum

Cat. 67 -- cabinet, with handcolored landscape print glued inside

Cat. 68 -- unfinished cabinet panels, showing how they were cut and paste together

Cat. 74 -- book cover; Holy Bible and Book of Common Prayer (1607); shows Adam and Eve; professional embroiderer; possibly imitates title page

2. Embroidered Furnishings: Questions of Production and Usage, by Kathleen Staples (23-37)

"There is a popular notion that women themselves copied illustrations from printed sources or that young girls created their own drawings. The majority of objects, however, were drawn by professionals, men and women working in the textile trades." (23)

making a cabinet involved many people: silk women, draughtsmen to tranfer images from prints and books, embroiderer(s), then the joiner who "constructed the thin, lightweight wooden panels and drawers of the cabinet onto which the upholsterer then glued cut-up sections of the finished embroidery. The upholsterer gathered together and mounted or attached all of the finishing materials -- silk and paper linings, metal thread trim, a small mirror, hinges, handles, and bun-shaped feet. He probably also added the glass bottles. As a final step, a leather worker constructed a tooled-leather storage box." (23)

"In contemporary accounts, when a woman of status was 'working,' it meant that she was engaged specifically with her needle and thread. Her work referred variously to needlework, embroidery, sewing, or mending. Related to work is the archaic adjective wrought." (24)

Jasper Mayne, The City-Match

Dame Dorothy Selby's monument epitaph

Damaris Pearce, memorial published by her father

letters of Lady Brilliana Harley

women of all but the lowest classes participated in needlework and embroidery in 17c (28-29)

John Nelham, father Roger Nelham -- professional embroidery designers and pattern drawers

John Overton, "one of the best-known print sellers in Restoration London" (30); purchased stock of copper plates from Peter Stent in 1665

  • hand-colored Overton print pasted on the floor of the interior tray of an embroidered cabinet
  • "Overton may have supplied the designs to the pattern drawer or embroiderer, or perhaps he contracted with the upholsterer who made up the cabinet. The print served to advertise his business in the same way that Stent's broadsides did, with the inclusion of the business address." (30)

John Parr, William Broderick, John Shepley, Edmund Harrison, George Pinckney -- court embroiderers

tasks were not compartmentalized

"Evidence suggestst that pattern drawers may have offered needlework kits for sasle; print sellers may have provided finishing services. Professional embroiderers may have worked sections of a needlework or embroidery before it was sold to indicate to the prospective stitcher how the composition should be shaded." (35)

"discrete vocabulary of motifs" which the artist drew for his clients

3. "An Instrument of profit, pleasure, and of ornament": Embroidered Tudor and Jacobean Dress Accessories, by Susan North (39-55)

blackwork; curvilinear patterns with small linear fill stitching

"By the 1590s, stitching in blackwork was beginning to imitate the graphic effects of the printed sources that inspired its design; the geometric filling patterns were replaced by 'speckling,' or shading in running and back stitches." (46)

blackwork worked on a single strip, then cut later (see example on 50)

"Operating in parallel with the gendered and privileged nature of amateur decorative sewing was the merchandising of men's and women's handiwork. In addition to plain sewing, knitting, and spinning, working-class women also embroidered professionally. The manufacture of silk threads and silk goods in England developed as a predominantly female trade from the early fourteenth century. In addition to the reeling and throwing of silk thread for emroidery and weaving, silk women wove a wide variey of silk laces (braids), ribbons, cords, and fringes; they also made tassels and silk buttons, as well as such finished items as embroidered gloves." (49)

play, The Fair Maid of the Exchange (1607), shows women running domestic goods shop at the Exchange (49)

patterns taken from herbals and emblem books; motifs lost their significance over time

4. Embroidered Biblical Narratives and Their Social Context, by Ruth Geuter (57-77)

1620s-1690s, style of working biblical and classical stories with characters represented in contemporary dress, for decorating small panels and domestic objects

"The embroidering of particular biblical and classical narratives was rooted in humanist and Protestant didactic culture, in which women were presented, through their education and training, sermons, moralizing tracts, and books, with illustrative models of virtuous behavior befitting the 'good woman'." (57)

Puritans, needlework as moral, keeping womens' hands busy

"embroidered overs on Bibles and books of Psalms ... associated as much with liturgical and ceremonial functions as with domestic use, but they provide one possible avenue from which the taste for embroidered biblical narratives emerged" (57)

43% of surviving figurative embroideries from 17c the author has catalogued include biblical stories" (57)

popular print "may have influenced the popularity of particular stories owing to their association ith topical events or widely promulgated values" (59)

much art didn't thrive during the Commonwealth; but embroidery did

women from Bible predominate in scenes; Hagar, Sarah, and Abraham; Bathsheba and David; Rebecca and Eliezer; Esther and Ahasuerus

Joshua Sylvester, Du Bartas His Divine Weekes, includes poem about Judith showing her heroism in relation to her piety and chastity

Robert Aylett, takes Du Bartas's approach to writing and epic about Susanna and the Elders, published 1622; describes Susanna as reading bible stories then working them with her needle (60-61), also singing psalms with her maids; Aylett was not Puritan but Laudian

oldest figurative picture discovered to date is 1629, Finding of Moses (62)

"There is a tantalizing connection between a surviving embroidery of the new style and the folio editions of the translations of du Bartas's poetry by Joshua Sylvester. The 1621, 1633, and 1641 editions were published with an engraved title page representing some of the subjects of poems included in the collection: Judith, Job, Joseph, Adam and Eve, and Abraham and Isaac. An undated embroidered panel in the Fitzwilliam Museum has faithfully transcribed the images of Adam and Eve and Abraham and Isaac adapted from this title page." (62) -- Aylett's Susanna embroidered these two images as a pair, too
"Embroiderers could reconcile the notion of embroidery as a virtuous activity of home-centered women who desired to identify with the dramatic lives and colorful activities of biblical queens and heroines of the past." (62)

Richard Brathwait, The English Gentlewoman (1631, 1641), encourages needlework to stave off idleness

"The identification of needlework, particularly embroidery, as creative, virtuous, morally beneficial, and indicative of female achievement appears to have reached a zenith in print in te years before the English Civil Wars, a time when the fashion for making domestic pictorial embroideries was developing." (63)

relationship to monarchy in embroideries; stories of kings and queens (68); biblical stories of monarchs, but depicted in Caroline / Stuart garb

  • "The apparent inclusion of real hair recorded in the older literature would have reinforced the sentimental relic-like function of the embroideries." (69)

embroidered portraits of Charles I, made post-beheading; so many extant that they were probably made for sale

relationship between embroidery and royalism (73-3)

5. Regaining Eden: Representations of Nature in Seventeenth-Century Embroidery, by Andrew Morrall (79-97)

"Textile historians have explored the range of such linguistic parallels between nature and embroidery and used them, for instance, to bolster connections between embroidered patterns and the Elizabethan garden with their complicated knot and border designs, often derived from the same print sources." (79)

flowers embroidered from herbals and botanicals, but had allegorial/metaphorical significant

"the floral decoration of the Protestant seventeenth century, emerging from its origins in traditional religious art, maintained within itself a continuity of religious affect, even hen it was divested of specific symbolism. This in turn allowed floral decoration to function as a vehicle for a particular kind of spiritual ideality, even in contexts that were -- in the modern sense -- not specifically religious."

Adam and Eve -- "The theme occurs fairly frequently on embroidered Bible and prayer-book covers of the period, and it often follows the design of the printing frontispieces and title-page illustrations of the) vernacular Bibles, where it was by far the most commonly depicted subject." (83)

embroidered bible cover uses scene from frontispiece (see 84)

cat. 74, embroidered bible cover showing Adam and Eve -- located within an "active liturgical context'

"the aesthetic plasure in natural forms, inevitably tinged by the substrate of theological meaning, would have conveyed a sense of pristine Eden, to which contemporaries, by virtue of their originating history, felt a spiritual affinity." (88)

theme of the companionate couple; presence of house "transforms the natural environment or garden from an idealized pastoral landscape or lover's bower into a statement of property" (91)

companionate couple transforms from allegorical to pastoral at the end of the century (94); perhaps because of Glorious Revolution, releasing scenes from monarchist succession anxieties

"The encylopedic vision that had tied betrothal and marriage to the larger social, political, and natural spheres, that celebrated monarchy at the same time as it celebrated marriage, had inculcated or at least implicated the young women who worked them in the larger ideological and political questions of the day. In the eighteenth-century pastoral, this tenuous link with the broader world was broken, and the new kind of connection between nature and women that it embodied pointed to the new way in which women had come to be defined." (95)