Domus A 17th Century Canvas-work Vignette
Houses depicted in early needlework tend to resemble imaginary castles rather than actual dwelling-places, as in later sampler work, where buildings were often modeled after existing structures. In 17th century canvasworks, from which this motif was excerpted, houses were more the stuff of dreams and fantasy than depictions of the reality of the stitcher’s surroundings. Mullioned windows could be filled in with chips of mica, rambling edifices were adorned with numerous chimneys (a subtle sign of wealth), towers, turrets, crenellated walls, moats, vast terraced lawns, flags waving atop high poles, walled secret maze gardens, pillared gazebos: all these idealized features are seen in needlework renderings of “houses”. In amongst the fantasy one can still detect a distinct resemblance to popular architectural themes of the period. These designs were first drawn onto the linen canvas, often by a professional illustrator, then outlined in black cross stitch by the needlewoman and filled in with polychrome silk tent stitch. Our design, excerpted from an extensive 17th century canvaswork picture, is worked entirely in cross stitch over one thread of 30 count linen and will measure approximately four inches square when completed.