Secular representations

Secular representations

'The abduction of Helen' is the name given to a large hanging now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It probably dates to the early seventeenth century, and was likely made in China (Macau?). It measures 363 x 480 cm and is made of a cotton ground material with silk and gilt-paper wrapped embroidery thread (Japanese thread) and with painted decorations.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses a late eighteenth century embroidered picture (65 x 75 x 7.5 cm) protesting against the continuing practice of slavery. The name of the embroideress and the date of completion are embroidered underneath the picture: L. van Ommeren / Geb. Hengevelt / 1794. The embroideress was Louise van Ommeren (née Hengevelt), who lived in Arnhem.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a remarkable embroidered picture, representing Charles I just before his execution on 30 January 1649, with his son, Charles II, standing to the left. The embroidery is worked in silk and metallic thread, with seed pearls, on a white satin ground. It measures 36.5 x 47.3 cm.

'Deux baigneuses' is an embroidered picture, designed by the French artist, art critic and author, Emile Bernard (1868-1941). It is 177 cm in length and dates to 1904. The woollen embroidery is worked on woollen ground material. It is housed in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

The collection of the Textile Research Centre in Leiden includes a double sided embroidery of a cat, from late twentieth century China. The embroidery measures 23 x 17 cm. The embroidery itself is made of silk and worked with a random, filling stitch, and is placed inside a protective cover. The cat is playing with a praying mantis.

The National Museums Scotland houses a seventeenth century panel embroidered with various scenes, including King Solomon welcoming the Queen of Sheba, and the Dream of Jacob.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an embroidered picture from Finland, dating to the 1950's, that is made of jute and embroidered with silk and metal threads with running stitch and stem stitches and couching. The embroidery measures 15.3 x 21 cm. The decoration represents a stag, dove, heart, tree and star.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London holds an embroidered picture of Charles I, worked by an unknown embroiderer, but based on an engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677), dated 1641. The embroidery is carried out in silk on a satin ground material.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses an embroidered picture (21.9 x 19.5 cm) with an allegorical representation of Claudius Civilis (Gaius Julius Civilis), the reputed leader of a revolt by the Batavians against the Romans in the first century AD. The Batavians were long regarded as the ancestors of the Dutch (compare the name of Batavia for the former capital of the Dutch East Indies, nowadays called Jakarta).

In the year 2000, the Swiss postal service issued a machine embroidered stamp to commemorate the St Gallen embroidery industry. This was the first postage stamp that was actually made as a form of embroidery. The stamp is attached to a first-day cover and housed in the collection of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.

This is an embroidered picture of a shepherdess worked by Esther Stoddard (1738-1816; Northampton, New England, USA) in c. 1750-1760. The image is of a reclining shepherdess in a wooded landscape with a spotted dog, woolly sheep, lambs, a leaping deer, blackbirds, a peasant and a small pond with ducks. In the background there is a two storey house with two chimneys.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an embroidered picture that represents 'Fame at the tomb of Shakespeare', or in full: 'Fame scattering flowers at the tomb of Shakespeare'. It was made in England and dates to the late eighteenth century.

A fukusa is the name for a gift cover that traditionally was draped over a box that was placed on a tray. Inside the box was a gift. The selection of a particular fukusa was always very significant, both to the gift-giver as to the gift-receiver.

This large and monumental embroidery on canvas is worked in wool and silk. It is based on a woodcut, dated 1547, by the German artist, David Kandel of Strasbourg (c. 1520 - c. 1596). The techniques that are used are the cross stitch and tent stitch. It measures 280 x 388.9 cm.

The Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, Canada, houses a modern, silken nakshi kantha embroidery, called Georgian Times. It measures 158 x 108 cm. It was made by Surayia Rahman in Bangladesh, in 2003. It is illustrated with scenes showing British soldiers in contact with local men and women in India. It has been described as a representation of an idyllic time before independence and chaos.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an embroidered picture representing a girld holding a cat. It dates to c. 1840 and was made in Britain. It is an example of Berlin wool work, with wool and silk on canvas, using chain stitch. The embroidery measures 76 x 69 cm.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an woollen inlay patchwork(also known as mosaic patchwork or intarsia work) showing a nostalgic, rustic scene. It dates to the mid-nineteenth century and measures 43 x 46.1 cm. Details are added with silk thread and simple stitches.

The tradition of making embroidered paintings developed in Japan in the nineteenth century. The representations made by famous painter/artists, such as Kishi Kikudō (1826-1897), Imao Keinen (1845-1924), and Takeuchi Seihō (1864-1942), were turned into embroideries, using the embroidery skills developed since the Edo period.

The Textile Museum of Canada holds a kantha embroidery from West Bengal in India. It was made by Srimirthi (Mrs.) Lokhibala Dashi sometime between 1920 and 1960. It measures 184 x 128 cm and is made of cotton. These kanthas were made of pieces of old clothing, sewn together, and embroidered with running and darning stitches, often with a lotus motif in the centre.

Mary Knowles, née Morris (1733-1807) was a Quaker, a gifted speaker and religious activist, especially in the struggle against slavery. She was also an accomplished craftswoman creating embroidered pictures. She was particularly known for a needlework representation of King George III, after a painting by Johan Zoffany (1733-1810), which he made in 1771.

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