9988 A RARE EMBROIDERED SILK PETIT POINT NEEDLEWORK DEPICTING AN EXOTIC WARRIOR IN A TROPICAL GARDEN Probably English. Circa 1690. Measurements: Framed measurements: Height: 14″ (36cm) x Width: 9 3/4″ (25cm)
Of embroidered silk in various colors. Depicting a fantastical Eastern warrior with tall, conical headdress within an exotic garden. Set within molded 18th or 19th century tortoiseshell frame.
From the Middle Ages, embroidery in England was used for religious vestments, altar cloths and furnishings known as opus anglicanum, however, with Henry VIII’s dissolution of religious houses in the 1530s, these dissipated and the art was widely applied on secular items as a greater portion of society could afford more sumptuous clothing and interior decorations. In the 17th century, needlework became richer as a result of “growing opportunities for luxurious living”1 and increased availability of finer materials such as colored silks and metallic thread.
Embroideries were produced by groups of people in diverse positions and stations. Schoolgirls completed needlework projects in the form of samplers and pictorial embroideries, items for the household were stitched by the mistresses of the household with the help of servants and included cushion covers, table covers and curtain panels, while professional male embroiderers produced pictures and clothing decoration.2
“The practice of using groups of allegorical figures, such as the five senses, the four continents, and the seven virtues, as decorative embroidery elements was especially popular during the 17th century.”3 The exotic subject of the present needlework, which depicts an Eastern warrior wearing a headdress and carrying a spear, may have represented Asia in a set depicting the Continents.
1. Synge, Lanto. Art of Embroidery: History of Style and Technique. Woodbridge. England: Antique Collectors’ Club, 2001. 110.
2. Epstein, Kathleen. British Embroidery: Curious Works from the Seventeenth Century. Williamsburg, Va: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1998.
3. Ibid., 23.