From before the early eighteenth century, a change in attitudes regarding nature in western art evolved, resulting in a bucolic, pastoral ideal: an inhabited landscape, lush with flowers and fruits, featuring shepherds and farming activities, usually with a hint at romance. The actual lives of the shepherds and farm workers depicted were exaggerated and romanticized to the extreme. This ideal sort of landscape as depicted in many eighteenth and early nineteenth century art works can be attributed to the Romantic movement, rather a broad artistic and aesthetic concept that appreciated a return to Nature in its purest elemental sense. Wordsworth defined Romanticism in reference to poetry as ” emotion recollected in tranquility” . It represents a place to escape from the rigors of the real world: an idealized world where roses grow as tall as trees, and sheep and cows munch languidly in ever-fruiting orchards.
Many of the popular motifs in the ideal landscapes feature in this needlework picture, inspired by early eighteenth century English prototypes. Not only do we have the lovely shepherdess/spinster (she is indeed spinning with a drop spindle traditionally used outdoors while tending to the flock as it is quite portable) with her sheep, an adoring shepherd sits beside her with his sheep crook, his devoted dog at his feet, offering her a small bouquet of flowers. A cat sits in front of a traditional half-timbered farm house, a groom holds a handsome horse, ducks and geese swim in a beautiful blue pool of water, butterflies and birds flit in every direction, oversized flowers and plants blossom in the pasture, and then there is the very eager—slightly manic—milkmaid on her stool, squirting jets of pure white milk into her wooden stave bucket. It simply does not get any more bucolic than this.
Only two different stitches are required to execute this picture: cross over two threads of linen, and over one thread of linen (tent stitch). The combination of stitches results in amazing depth and texture. On 35 count linen the picture will measure approximately 13-1/2″ x 14-1/2″ .