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Judas Iscariot.
1776-1780
Embroiderer:Attributed to Prudence Punderson , American, 1758 - 1784
Embroidery; silk thread, floss and ink on a plain-woven silk ground
Primary Dimensions (height x width of ground): 9 x 8 1/4in. (22.9 x 21cm) Mount (height x width): 9 1/2 x 8 1/2in. (24.1 x 21.6cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Newton C. Brainard
Gallery Copy: The subject matter of this series is unique in early American needlework. Each picture depicts one of the twelve Christian apostles, accompanied by one or more of his traditional symbols and a caption describing his manner of death. These grim captions contrast starkly with the pleasant landscapes, bright flowers, and engaging animals that evoke a Garden of Eden. The subject matter likely relates to the Punderson family’s adherence to the Church of England, an unpopular choice in overwhelmingly Congregational colonial Connecticut. The stitches are executed with great precision and ingenuity on fine silk, and convey muscles, drapery, feathers, wood grain, and wool. The facial expressions are more individualized than was generally attempted or achieved in early American embroidery.
Description: Needlework picture worked in black, dark brown, green, light and dark blue, yellow and cream silk threads on a plain-woven gold silk ground, using a surface satin stitch and other stitches. At the bottom is a hand-written inscription in black ink: "Judas Iscariot./ Who betrayed his Lord, and hang'd himself." This is one of a group of twelve silk needlework pictures; each depicts an apostle and has an ink inscription at the bottom with the name of the apostle and a description of their death. The needlework picture is rectangular, oriented vertically. It shows a man lying on the ground with his eyes closed and one arm covering his face. He is lying beneath a pear tree with birds and a butterfly below the branches of the tree. A length of rope, or noose, hangs from one branch. To the left is a tall sunflower bush. In the foreground is a black, wide-brimmed hat and a butterfly. All four edges of the needlework are whip-stitched. The selvedge is at the top of the needlework. The picture is hand-drawn in black and red ink then embroidered in untwisted silk and floss. The ground has 112 yarns per inch in the warp and 80 yarns per inch in the weft. Stitches: The principal stitch is the surface satin stitch; it also includes satin, stem, and some free-form stitches. Condition: There is some fading to the ground and embroidery. The needlework picture has been cleaned gently then stitched to a plain-woven cotton support fabric applied to a rigid mount. The picture is not framed.
Subject Note: Judas Iscariot is listed in Matthew 10:2-4 as one of the twelve apostles; he betrayed Christ to the Jewish chief priests and elders for thirty pieces of silver. Later, overcome with remorse he hanged himself. (Source: James Hall, Dictionary of Subjects & Symbols in Art.) Source Note: Some elements of the needlework pictures of the Twelve Apostles (1962.28.3a-l) are taken from The Artist's Vade Mecum (published in London, 1776).
Inscription: At the bottom is a hand-written inscription in black ink: "Judas Iscariot./ Who betrayed his Lord, and hang'd himself."
Object Number: 1962.28.3l
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