Needlework Picture of a Cat on a Plinth,

Needlework Picture of a Cat on a Plinth,

United States, circa 1850

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sampler size: 9¾” x 11¾” • framed size: 15½” x 17¾” • sold

“The emphasis on domesticity as an antidote to the social upheaval caused by industrialization caused a shift in attitudes towards pets in the nineteenth century. Once valued for their economic and functional value to households and property management, domestic animals and pets increasingly became the objects of sentiments and emotional relationships within American households. One manifestation of these changing views was the popularity of animals and pets as subjects for art and the decorative arts.” This is from Painted with Thread: The Art of American Embroidery by Paula Bradstreet Richter (Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, 2001) and we feel it provides excellent context for this and other mid-19th century portraits of cats and dogs.

Our fully worked example depicts a striped tabby cat sitting on a well-defined deep pink and red plinth - or perhaps this is a flat cushion? - contained within a cut-cornered square set in a blue field. There was an unusual color blocking that the needleworker used in this case and it provides excellent visual appeal.

Worked in wool on linen, this is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in its fine original mahogany beveled frame.


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