Shepherd and Shepherdess with Jacob Sheep

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The pastoral Arcadian ideal was a common theme in 18th century needlework, popularized by the Romantic movements in art, literature and music. Beginning with the pastoral poetry of Alexander Pope and Ambrose Phillips, the operas of Handel and subsequent visual arts including paintings and copperplate engravings, the theme of admiration for the innocence and simplicity of rural life can be seen in many diverse works of the period. Harking back to “engagement pictures” of the 17th century, these refined and elegant shepherdesses are courted by equally genteel shepherds. This is a sort of hybrid sampler, employing a usual floral sampler border, but the solidly filled central pictorial scene is more like earlier canvasworks since it lacks verse and attribution. Another unique feature of the sampler is the depiction of the spotted Jacob sheep, a rare, hardy and ancient breed just recently brought back from the brink of extinction. Jacob sheep were known as park sheep: aesthetically pleasing with their distinct spots and multiple horns, they grazed the lands around large estates and came to be associated with the wealthy landowning class. The only stitch required to complete this reproduction sampler is cross stitch, so it is recommended for any skill level. On 35 count linen it will measure approximately 21″ x16″. On 40 count linen, like the original, it will measure 18″ x 14″.

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