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St. Phillip
1776-1780
Embroiderer:Embroidered by 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 1/4 x 8 3/8in. (23.5 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, brown, light and dark green, white, pink, light blue, light purple, and red silk threads on a plain-woven silk ground, using a surface satin stitch and other stitchs. At the bottom is a hand-written inscription in black ink: "St. Philip/ Was First Crucified and then stoned to Death." 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 veritcally. It shows a man seated on a bench beneath a tree entwined with grape vines. The man is wearing a long black robe, or banyan, and carries a book in his left hand and a tall cross in his right. To the right of the tree are four sheep, each in a different post. The edges of the needlework are whip-stitched. The picture is hand-drawn with black and red ink and embroidered in untwisted silk thread 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 stem and 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: Philip is listed in Matthew 10:2-4 as one of the twelve apostles. Philip's death is described in John Foxe's Book of Martyrs (written and published about 1560): "Philip. Was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee and was first called by the name of 'disciple.' He labored diligently in Upper Asia, and suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified, A.D. 54." Religious imagery represents Philip with a cross; in the city of Hierapolis he is said to have succeeded, with the aid of the cross, in banishing a serpent or dragon which was the object of worship in the temple of Mars. The enraged priests captured Philip and crucified him. (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: "St. Philip/ Was First Crucified and then stoned to Death."
Object Number: 1962.28.3e
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