November 24, 2009


One of the hundreds of pages that captured my interest over the years reading House & Garden magazine, included a story about Silkwork by Christopher Finch. These vivid tableaux became fashionable with the opening up of the China Trade during the eighteenth century—and depict scenes from mythology to the Mayflower. During this time when silk thread became available, young women learned the craft of silk embroidery to demonstrate accomplishment and breeding. Unlike the more commonplace needlework samplers that were stitched on grounds of linen or canvas, the intricate pattern of stitches on Silkwork were created on satin or moiré backgrounds. The lovely piece shown above is from a dog-eared page I saved as inspiration for a front hall mural that we never got around to installing in our 1740s Massachusetts farmhouse. This early 18th-century English tableau portrays a scene of courtly love and was made available to House & Garden by Cora Ginsburg, New York.


  1. Gorgeous! Thanks for your visit and sweet comment. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  2. When I was a young girl, I loved doing needlework. I love the therapy of needlework, but now my eyes are giving me a challenge.
    I do love admiring historical pieces and Cora has some of the most amazing I have ever seen. We used to shop there, way back when I worked for Ralph!

  3. pve, Cora does have some of the most amazing pieces... Titi Halle is great and knew my godfather George well [who I write about here]. So many talented people have worked for Ralph!!! Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. What a beautiful piece & love the education regarding it's origin. I find it fascinating how so many of the 17th & 18th century fabrics depicted a story. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours ~

  5. Thank you D.T., I was just at your blogger ball... and had a blast! Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Wow, what an exceptionally beautiful example of textile art. How lucky you are to live in a home that dates from the 18th century. I can't imagine how many facinating antiques and interesting architectural details must be inside. Sadly, my family isn't one for collecting and isn't very historically oriented (new houses with new things inside). From an early age I've been interested in old things (art in particular, but also in ornament and interior decoration). I've had to single handedly collect old trinkets and antiques that interest me because I simply never had exposure to such things in any other way.

    I recently read the book Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China by Francesa Bray for a class I am currently taking. You may be interested as it deals with many of the subjects you mentioned in this post. Partiucarly from the perspective of women in Eastern culture and how fabrics (silks in particlar) helped them achieve a great level of social importance (until men, of course, eventually took over fabric production and design in the 19th and 20th centuries).

  7. Chad, if you are not already familiar with Cora Ginsburg... please take a look at their site [link in post] where you can view PDFs of yearly catalogs. You will see some of the finest examples of textiles from every period. Thank you for your wonderful comment!


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