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Needlework Rug

1841
Origin: England
Overall (H x W): 66 1/4 x 37in. (168.3 x 94cm) Other (Individual Square H x W): 6 1/2 x 7 1/2in. (6 1/2 x 7 1/2in.)
Wool embroidery threads on a canvas ground
Gift of the John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, Fund, Inc., through the generosity and interest of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, and members of the family.
Acc. No. 1996.BH.399
This large, rectangular rug consists of fifty needlepoint squares. The ground colors are arranged in a checkerboard pattern with brown squares placed every other square, and the cream squares (supplemented with light blue and pink squares) as the alternates. While each square is stitched entirely in cross stitch, the technique varies between squares with some showing consistently parallel stitches and others alternating between vertical and diagonal stitches. Each square bears a different motif with little coordination between squares. The most numerous motif is floral bouquets or sprigs, including roses, carnations, and cherries. Most of the remaining squares show animals, such as a dog, a deer, a squirrel, and fox heads. Two squares show abstract medallions—perhaps influenced by stain glass. One square, which does not match the aesthetic of the rest of the rug, shows an Eastern figure in a scene over a blue striped ground.

Most of the squares are marked on the reverse with a name (and sometimes date) inked onto a small strip of linen and whip stitched onto the square. The names are Hon the Mrs. Vengen; Hon the Mrs. Thydellbouerne; Hon the Mrs. Hingent; Colonel Clitherow (on two squares); Lady Bouster; Lady Cooper; Lady Kirkland; Mrs. Fitzgerald; Miss Caroline Byng; Mrs. Millward; Mrs. Deldes; Mrs. Campbell; Mrs. Barnard; Mrs. Taylor; Mrs. Marten; Mrs. Stuart; Mrs. Flanery; Georgiana Wheatly (eight squares); Carolina Wheatly (six squares); Mary Wheatly (four squares); Mrs. Fitzgerold Wheatly (three squares); Mrs. Campbell Wheatly (two squares); Charlotte Waldo (two squares); Eliza Honywood (two squares); and Sophie Winbert (two squares). Every dated square is marked 1841.

The rug is currently lined, but the corners of the lining are attached with snaps to allow some of the inscriptions to be seen. The names of the signers are written on a panel that is sewn to the center of the lining. It is bound in pink twill tape.

STITCHES: cross, whip
Label:This rug consists of individual needlepoint squares created and/or sponsored by different individuals. Many of the squares are signed and dated on the reverse, with names ranging from unmarried girls to titled ladies. One unusual addition is the name of Colonel Clitherow, a well-known philanthropist who was the Vice President of the Royal Humane Society and on the board of several other relief organizations. It’s probable that the rug was made as part of the British government-led initiative sometimes known as Victorian Design Reform. A goal of the Government School of Design, which was established by a Select Commitee of the House of Commons around 1837, was to improve and beautify everyday objects. Published designs from the school are similar to some of the rug motifs.
Provenance:Given to CWF, 1979.

OBJECT HISTORY: The rug does not match the measurements of any of the needlepoint rugs in Bassett Hall during the 1948-49 inventory. However, the rug is present in the house at least by 1975 as it was included with a group of rugs sent to Karekin Beshir Ltd for cleaning and repair. It was also listed in the 1979 inventory.