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Needlework Picture
Embroiderer:Attributed to Frances Ann Brace , American, 1808 - 1838
Teacher:Taught by Sarah Pierce , American, 1767 - 1852
Embroidery; silk thread and metallic thread on a plain-woven silk ground; glass, wood, gold paint
Primary Dimensions (height x width): 23 3/4 x 22in. (60.3 x 55.9cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Mary W. Edwards
Gallery Copy: Beehives were symbols of industriousness and were particularly popular in rural settings, where they decorated everything from newspaper announcements of agricultural interest to roadside tavern signs to parlor walls. Here gold embroidery threads transform a bee hive made of plaited straw into a glittering icon, surrounded by an array of flowers and two tiny bees (at right). The subtle, restrained elegance of the floral garlands corresponds to neoclassical sensibilities of the Federal era (ca. 1790–1810) rather than the bolder styling of the 1820s. By contrast, the flowers around the beehive are densely massed and worked with thicker, fuzzier threads and coarser stitching than the outer garlands. These differences suggest that two sets of hands may have worked this piece at different, perhaps a mother (the garlands) and her daughter (the beehive).
Description: Needlework picture worked in green, blue-green, dark medium and light blue, tan, cream, pink, and red silk threads with gold metallic thread on a plain-woven cream-colored silk ground using a satin stitch and other stitches. The center of the picture shows a small, shallow beehive on a small hill. Above the beehive are bows and swagged ribbon embroidered with metallic thread. Below the beehive is a floral vine that curves up to meet the ribbon. The picture is behind glass (.c) that is painted black and gold at the edges; each corner has a gold painted star. The gilded wooden frame (.b, original) consists of several shallow moldings including a beaded molding. Stitches: The primary stitch is satin stitch; it also includes long and short, encroaching satin, flat and outline. Condition: The backing is replaced. The silk ground is scratched at the top center.
Historical Note: The embroiderer Francis Ann Brace attended Miss Pierce's school, in Litchfield, Connecticut from 1821 to 1824. The beehive on the needlework is the symbol of the Litchfield Female Academy, also known as Miss Pierce's School.
Object Number: 1984.42.1a-c
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