Man Dogs and Deer
A needlework picture inspired by early eighteenth century examples
Flora and fauna were highly celebrated in nearly all 17th and 18th century pictorial embroideries. Executed entirely in cross or tent (half cross) stitches, the embroidered pictures embellished cushions and furniture and reflected a changing attitude toward domestic comforts, by serving to brighten monochromatic wood and stone interiors. The two prominent themes in all of these embroideries is either biblical or the natural world, yet domestic works were made for secular use- not for public or religious displays. Most of them were made at home (rather than workshop), by girls and women. The formula used for the designs is fairly standard. The foreground contains flowers, trees, and exotic foliage, sometimes unusual animals; the middle ground depicts the action- rural pursuits and in this case a hunter and his dogs pursuing a deer; and the background shows a house, castle, or village scene. Hunting was a pursuit enjoyed only by the landed classes. Needlework like this might have been sketched onto the linen by a professional drawer, then finished at the home of the embroiderer. Textiles and hand work speak to us through the intimacy of their creation. Olive Milne Rae expresses this beautifully in this quotation from her article “Needlework Pictures” published in 1907 in The Connoisseur #27: “So the true delight and supreme worth of needlework lies in the magnetism of those dead hands that worked it, of the individuality that planned it and set its seal indelibly upon it forever.” Stitched over two threads on 40 count linen, the finished picture will measure approximately 18″ x 15″. It is recommended for any skill level.