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Framed Needlework Picture of Barnyard Scene by Mary Rees

1827
Origin: America, Mid-Atlantic, PA, Montgomery County, Upper Providence
Other (unframed): 20 3/4 x 22in. (52.7 x 55.9cm) Framed: 27 1/8 x 28 3/8 x 7/8in. (68.9 x 72.1 x 2.2cm)
Silk and wool embroidery threads on a linen ground of 27 x 36 threads per inch Frame: veneered maple
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1957.602.1
This is a framed almost square needlework picture/sampler worked in shades of blue, black brown, white, gold, and green silk and wool embroidery threads on a linen ground. The picture consists of a landscape scene with two brown cows, two sheep, one lamb, and a dog under a tree on a hill. To the left of this group is a field with a row of tulip-like flowers and tiny blue trees. A white post and rail fence is in mid distance. Behind the fence is a field of stitches and on the horizon line are two cottage-like structures. A large hill to the right has a series of spruce-like trees growing on top of it. Fourteen brown birds fly in the sky, filling the sky area of the linen ground.
Beneath the scene is the cross-stitched verse: "Ye stubborn oaks, and stately pines,/ Bend your high branches and ador-(e./ Praise God, ye beasts in different str-(ains;/ The lamb must bleat the oxen roar./ Ye birds, his praise must be your theme,/ Who form'd to song your tuneful voice;/ While the dumb fish that cuts the stre-(am/ In his protecting care rejoice./ Ye flow'ry plains, proclaim his skill;/ Ye vallies, sink before his eyes/ And let his praise from every hill,/ Rise tune ful to the neighb'ring ski-(es."
The signature line, "MARY REES 1827," and "E Robinson Teacher" are worked in half cross stitch yellow silk in the bottom margin.

The scene is outlined in yellow silk stitches. An outer border of black stitches surrounds the embroidered scene and verse.

Stitches: cross, French knots, half cross, herrignbone, running, satin
Label:Mary Rees's cross-stitched verse and her pictorial composition are perfectly suited to each other. The former admonishes all living things to praise their Maker, while the latter shows some of the plants and animals requested to pay such tribute. Careful selection of thread color and the direction and type of stitching makes the scene both decorative and naturalistic. For example, nineteenth-century needlework students commonly used French knots to depict the nubby wool of sheep, but Mary further emphasized this quality of their wool by using silk threads for all but the sheep's and lamb's bodies, where she employed wool.
Characteristics found on other embroideries worked under of the instruction of Elizabeth Robinson is the embroidered scene bordered in black stitches to imitate a reverse painted glass mat and the title, date, and signature worked in bright threads to mimic a more expensive gold leaf inscription.
Provenance:From the collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Law Robertson, Montrose and Scranton, Pa.
The picture was reportedly found in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, probably in the 1940s.
Inscription(s):The sampler verse cross-stitched above signature line reads: "Ye stubborn oaks, and stately pines,/ Bend your high branches and ador-(e./ Praise God, ye beasts in different str-(ains;/ The lamb must bleat the oxen roar./ Ye birds, his praise must be your theme,/ Who form'd to song your tuneful voice;/ While the dumb fish that cuts the stre-(am/ In his protecting care rejoice./ Ye flow'ry plains, proclaim his skill;/ Ye vallies, sink before his eyes/ And let his praise from every hill,/ Rise tune ful to the neighb'ring ski-(es."