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  STANDING PORTRAIT OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, BERLIN WORK NEEDLEPOINT TAPESTRY, 1856
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STANDING PORTRAIT OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, BERLIN WORK NEEDLEPOINT TAPESTRY, 1856:

This beautiful illustration of George Washington was executed in what is known as Berlin work. Berlin wool work is a style of embroidery. Developed in Germany, it is a subtype of what is known as canvas work, which is executed with tapestry wool on canvas using a petit point stitch. It was traditionally executed in many colors and hues, producing intricate three-dimensional looks by careful shading.

This standing portrait was likely produced in a cottage industry setting. Because more than one was made, it is a known object. One like it is documented in "Threads of History", by Herbert Ridgeway Collins (Smithsonian Press, 1978). Collins served as curator of political history at the Smithsonian and his landmark text is considered the "Bible" of political textiles.

The original profile of the textile was actually rectangular. And although the top border was evidently trimmed in an arch format by the original owner, two things are true that make it great in spite of that fact. One, this is the best color I've ever seen on a surviving example, most of which were subject to significant fading. Two, the arched format is actually makes the object more visually interesting than its rectangular counterparts. I have passed on the purchase of several examples of this tapestry over the years. All had experienced unsightly fading and were simply not as bold due to the rectangular format.

Mounting: The kerchief has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton, black in color. The black fabric was washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding.

Condition: Trimmed along the top into this arched profile by a former owner.
   
Primary Color: red, gold, khaki, salmon
Earliest Date: 1856
Latest Date: 1856
For Sale Status: Sold
Price SOLD
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