Saturday, September 12, 2020

17th century American (?) Embroidery

 As the Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded in 1620 there was rapid immigration to this region I live in during the 17th century and inevitably, there were pieces of embroidery brought over finished, unfinished and maybe imported to be worked here.  We know of several samplers that were worked here (and some brought with immigrants).  But there are few stumpwork or pictures that we can say - yes, that might have been made in colonial America.  

One particular piece, a picture of the Story of Esther, has provenance that says that Rebeckah Wheeler (1645-1718) worked the piece in Concord, MA.  It is long stitched in wool instead of silk but does have some metallic thread elements.  It is possible that the drawn linen was brought from England in the 1650-1660s and she completed it here.  The wool thread and long stitch choice are unusual for England but one could see it being a local choice.

There is more to the story about her and her family.  Today a video by the Concord Museum curator (where the embroidery resides) dropped a YouTube video about the piece and a particular political issue in the Massachusetts Bay Colony at the time.

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