Trenton, New Jersey
Silk thread on paper, backed with newspaper
Purchased in Memory of Mrs. Alexander Oliphant
This horizontal still life, created with luxurious crinkled silk thread, depicts a reticulated basket filled with roses and delicate summer flowers. It is predominantly worked with satin and stem stitches, sewn through the front paper and the newspaper backing.
The young lady who created this pictorial silk embroidery on paper, as well as its companion piece may be anonymous, but some things can be learned from examining her work. She was probably in her teens, as this piece required a skillfull hand, and someone who had already mastered fine embroidery techniques. Stitching with a needle through paper was an exacting skill, and any mistaking would leave holes in the paper for all to see. This, then, may have been almost like a final test of her ability. It is also likely she was a student at a Trenton acadmy or school, since the backing newspaper, added for strength, was printed in Trenton in 1794. Although the backing paper here dates from 1794, and the companion piece has newspaper from 1823, close examination shows the embroideries were undoubtedly made by the same hand, and at the same time. Her frugal instructress probably had piles of old newspapers from various years, and they were employed here as a stiffening agent, just as embroideries on silk often had linen backings.
The companion piece to this object can be found here: Rose Sprig on Newspaper
Description taken from Hail Specimen of Female Art! New Jersey Schoolgirl Needlework, 1726-1860, Morven Museum & Garden (2014)