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Overmantel
1754
Embroiderer:Attributed to Faith Trumbull , American, 1743 - 1775
Teacher:Taught by Elizabeth Murray , Scottish, 1726 - 1785
Frame Maker:Frame attributed to David Mason , American, 1726 - 1794
After a work by:After a work by Nicholaas Pietersz Berchem , Dutch, 1620 - 1683
After a work by:After a work by Cornelis Visscher , Dutch, 1629 - 1658
Embroidery: silk thread, mica and gouache on a satin-woven silk ground Frame: black and gilt wood, glass
Primary Dimensions (height x width of frame): 23 1/8 x 54in. (58.7 x 137.2cm) Primary Dimensions (height x width inside frame): 20 3/8 x 51 1/16 in. (51.8 x 129.7cm)
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Gallery Copy: Overmantels were site-specific works, intended to be displayed above a fireplace in the family’s best room, usually the parlor. That Faith Trumbull’s family prized this scene is evident from the fact that it is set in its original frame. In this picture, Faith moves from closely copying a Dutch print source to combining elements from different prints with traditional embroidery devices and details observed from life. The milkmaid and cow reappears, becoming progressively smaller as the composition becomes more complex. Two foreground trees divide the composition into halves. On one side, the milkmaid continues her task; on the other, her red-and-gold companion has become a seated musician, gazing at two men and a herd of cattle. Distant houses display mica-filled windows, which must have glittered wonderfully in firelight.
Description: Overmantel needlework picture worked in shades of gold, light brown, medium brown, cream, khaki, dark brown, dark medium and light blue, blue-green, grey, red, yellow and black silk threads, mica, and gouache on a pale blue, satin-woven silk ground. The picture depicts a pastoral scene in a wide landscape. In the foreground is a pair of trees; at the foot of the tree is a woman playing a musical instrument and a young woman milking a cow. In the foreground to the right of the milking woman are several sheep, a shepherd, and a dog. A pond is located in the middle distance across the width of the picture; four cows are standing in the water to the left, while two swans float in the water on the right. Three gentlemen, probably herders, stand on the shores of the pond; one is on the near shore while two are on the far side of the pond. In the right middle and far background are three buildings, probably a residence, each with mica windows. Various trees and hills decorate the landscape scene. The sky consists of the unembroidered light blue satin-woven silk ground. The ground consists of light blue satin-woven silk that is stretched horizontally in the warp direction. The ground has selvedges on top and bottom edges; each selvedge contains four flat-metal wire warp threads. Each edge of the ground is sewn to strips of heavy linen. The frame and stretcher are original; the glass is replaced. Stitches: The principal stitch on the needlework picture is whip stitch (a variation of outline stitch); it also includes surface satin, flat, outline, and split. The picture includes some laid work. Condition: The gouache is cracked, but not flaking. There is consistent loss of the brown silk thread that forms the pond. The ground has been stitched to a cotton support. A band of woven silk ribbon is added to each side of the needlework; this is used to join the needlework to the strainer. The needlework picture is re-installed in the original frame. The glass is replaced.
Source Note: The milking scene in this needlework picture is taken from an engraving of a milking scene by Cornelis Visscher after Nicolaas Berghem (1620-1686). The design source is discussed in Nancy Graves Cabot, "Engravings As Pattern Sources, I, Embroideries of Three Faith Trumbulls" in The Magazine Antiques (December 1950), p. 477, fig. 5. (Hunt 12/8/2006)
Object Number: 1974.99.0
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