Queen Anne (1702-1714) was the last of the Stuart monarchs. Although in poor health she was pregnant 17 times but only one child lived beyond infancy. Her great friend, Sarah Jennings, with whom she had a stormy relationship, married John Churchill. He had great military skill winning many battles in Europe including the Battle of Blenheim. A grateful nation created him the Duke of Marlborough and built Blenheim Palace for him. Located northwest of London and near Oxford, it is well worth a visit. Winston Churchill was born there.
Queen Anne’s reign was noted for the development of the two party political system, the Union of England, Ireland and Scotland forming Great Britain among other achievements. It was a time of the building of mansions, private houses, lavish interior decoration and beautiful furniture. The furniture was smaller, lighter and more comfortable than previous styles; the cabriole leg (S shaped) is the most recognizably enduring part. This seems to be an appropriate accompaniment to the style of embroidery that we were told was current during Queen Anne’s reign.
What we were told at the Royal School of Needlework was that silk threads from the Far East had become available triggering a whole different style of embroidery. These threads were not suited for portraying the Jacobean Tree of Life with all its fanciful and massive leaves, flowers, birds and beasts. Instead, linear and free form shapes better were better suited to the new style furniture and interior decorating. I do not think that the elements of this design represent anything or are symbolic of anything.
You will notice that the colours have become muted more like the Elizabethan colour scheme rather than the boldness of the Jacobeans. The parallel lines use negative space between the colours to enhance each one of them. The stitches used are puffy Couching, Long and Short Stitch, some Laid Work, and French Knots. The majority of the lines are worked in Coral Stitch which happens to be one of my very favourite stitches of all time. I have looked for it in books and never seen it anywhere. It does seem to be related to Coral Knot but is worked a little differently. No, it is not difficult. The effect is a light and open decorative line which works well both as a single outline and a spaced filling. I include the closeup so that you will be able to see it better. We stitched some lines in worsted wool such as the blue and green outer lines. The couching and long and short stitch are in Pearsall’s Filoselle Embroidery Silk which is a 6-strand silk floss.
Sampler of crewel work stitches worked by Dorothea Nield, c.1930 in the Bridgeman Art Library. Creative Needlecraft by Lynette de Denne. Octopus Books Limited 1979 ISBN 1 85052 07. This excellent book is a good investment if you should be lucky enough to see it somewhere. Erica Wilson is bound to have it in her books though I am unable to tell you which one.
Notice the different design features and the different methods of stitching. Your comments are always welcome so please keep them coming. The next entry will be our first RSN sampler and, possibly, the second one also.