11513

A PAIR OF PETIT POINT NEEDLEWORK PICTURES DEPICTING AN ELEPHANT AND A CAMEL, EACH IN AN EXOTIC LANDSCAPE

English. Second Quarter of The Eighteenth Century.

Measurements

Elephant- Framed: Width: 24 1/2" (62.2 cm); Height 22" (55.8 cm).
Sight Size: Width: 19 1/2" (49.5 cm); Height 17 1/4" (43.8 cm).Camel- Framed: Width: 25 1/4" (64.1 cm); Height 22 1/4" (56.5 cm).
Sight size: Width: 20 1/4" (51.4 cm); Height 17 1/4" (43.8 cm).

Research
Of colored wools.

This charming pair of eighteenth century needleworks depicts a camel and an elephant within exotic gardens. They were made at a time when animals from Asia and Africa were a rarity in Europe and access to these marvelous creatures was limited to noble and aristocratic menageries. Each animal is cheerfully sauntering amongst blossoming trees, oversized flowers and birds in compositions that are reminiscent of chinoiserie fantasy vignettes, where the relative scales of the subjects are often deliberately reversed.

In the seventeenth century, zoological engravings by pioneering naturalists, such as those published by Joannes Jonstonus’ in Historiae Naturalis (1650), attempted to classify the emerging natural wonders of the new worlds being discovered in Africa and elsewhere. As such, the depictions of animals were often the artistic result of a brief glimpse or verbal account rather than detailed studies. This may explain the curious aspect of the elephant shown here as spotted, representative of the evolving European understanding of exotic species. An English embroidered panel circa 1600-29 in the Victoria and Albert Museum is decorated with various animals, including several that are also erroneously spotted, including an elephant and camel (figure 1).

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.