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Jephthah's Rash Vow
about 1810
Embroiderer:Embroidered by Eliza Talcott , American, 1795 - 1829
School:Possibly taught at the Royse School , American, 1799 - 1824
Framer:Framed by A. D. Vorce & Co. , American
(.a) Embroidery; silk thread, metallic thread, chenille yarn, velvet, a sequin, and paint on plain-woven silk; (.b) original frame: wood, gold paint
Primary Dimensions (height x width): 22 3/4 x 27 7/8in. (57.8 x 70.8cm)
Credit Line: Gift of the estate of Mabel H. Talcott
Gallery Copy: Jephthah, an Old Testament leader of the Israelites, promised God that if he were victorious in battle, he would sacrifice “whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me.” When Jephthah subsequently returned home victorious, his only child, a daughter, rushed out. Informed, she willingly complied with her father’s vow and became a symbol for human acceptance of misfortune and unconditional submission to divine will.
Description: Needlework picture (.a) consisting of white, cream, tan, blue-green, light medium and dark green, light medium and dark blue, salmon and black silk thread, blue-green, brown, tan and cream chenille yarn, and applied velvet on a plain-woven silk ground with a hand-painted background; the picture is labeled "ELIZA TALCOTT" and titled "JEPHTHAH'S RASH VOW." The picture shows a man facing a columned porch where two women are standing. Both woman are wearing Empire, or late neoclassical, style dresses; a younger woman holds a tambourine, an older woman holds out her arms to each side. The man's arms are held up as if to ward off the two women. To the left of the man is a fence, before two men, one of whom is holding a flag, and a tree on a hill. The foreground consists of applied blue-green velvet; other portions of the ground in the picture are embroidered in chenille thread. The costume, architecture, and intermediate landscape are embroidered in silk thread. Gold metallic thread is used to form the fringe, tassels and decorative edging on the man's costume and on the fabric drapery on the columned porch. The faces, limbs and sky in the background are hand-painted directly onto the plain-woven silk ground. The picture is behind glass that is painted black at the edges; the title is painted in gold at the bottom center. The gilded wooden frame (original) consists of one deeply curved molding with a rope twist band applied inside. Stitches: The primary stitch on the needlework picture is satin stitch; it also includes encroaching satin, long and short, and french knots. Condition: The silk thread is faded; the original colors are visible on the back of the ground. The backing of the frame is replaced; the backing is removable and shows the back of the embroidery. The embroidery is loose in the frame.
Subject Note: The needlework picture depicts the Old Testament story of Jephthah's as told in Judges 11:29-40. Jephthah promised the Lord he would sacrifice the first thing that greeted him upon his return home if he won a battle against the Ammonites. The victory was his, and on his return his daughter greeted him at the door. Two months later, after she had time to spend with friends and bewail her virginity in the mountains, he sacrificed her. (Hunt 3/13/2007) Attribution Note: This needlework picture was made by Eliza Talcott, previously thought to have been a student at the Sarah Pierce school in Litchfield, Connecticut. However, this is not the case (see Historical Attributions). The needlework picture is closely related in subject, materials and design to a needlework picture shown in Carol Huber's article titled New England's Girlhood Needlework in New England Antiques Journal (March 2007). Huber attributes the needlework picture to the Lydia Royse school in Hartford, about 1810. (Hunt 3/20/2007)
Object Number: 1956.57.1a-c
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