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St. Peter.
1776-1780
Embroiderer:Attributed to Prudence Punderson , American, 1758 - 1784
Embroidery; silk thread and ink on a plain-woven silk ground
Primary Dimensions (height x width of ground): 9 3/8 x 8 3/8in. (23.8 x 21.3cm) 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 green, medium brown, cream, red, pink, yellow and blue threads in 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: "St. Peter/ He was Crucified at Rome with his head downward". 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 with one leg crossed over the other seated in a chair beneath a tree with white blossoms. Three birds are flying beneath the tree. The man is wearing a tan hat with a wide brim, a long black robe, or banyan, over a green suit, and is holding two keys in his right hand. To the right of the man is a wooden chair in the Queen Anne, or late baroque, style with a yoke-shaped crest rail, a vase-shaped splat, rush seat, turned stretchers and front legs with Spanish feet. To the left of the man is a bush and a small collared dog. The edges of the needlework picture are whip-stitched. The picture is hand-drawn in black and red ink. The needlework is embroidered with untwisted silk thread. 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 and free-form stitches. Condition: There are minor losses to all four edges of the ground. There is minor fading to the ground. 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: Peter, also known as Simon, is the first of the twelve apostles listed in Matthew 10:2-4. Peter's death is described in John Foxe's Book of Martyrs (written and published about 1560): "Peter. Among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, as some do write, at Rome... Jerome saith that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was." Subject Note: In many images of the apostle, including this one, Peter is shown holding keys. This is a reference to Matthew 16:18-20, where Jesus Christ tells Peter "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven". 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: "St. Peter/ He was Crucified at Rome with his head downward".
Object Number: 1962.28.3a
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