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"Ruth and Boaz"

ca. 1810
Origin: Probably New England
Overall (H x W): 20 1/2 x 24 1/2in. (52.1 x 62.2cm) Framed (H x W): 23 1/4 x 27 1/4in. (59.1 x 69.2cm)
Silk and silk chenile embroidery threads on silk with paint
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. 1979.601.6
This rectangular needlework picture shows Boaz discovering Ruth gleaning in his field. This is portrayed by two central figures in front of a large tree in a field with smaller figures sitting beneath trees in the background. Ruth is to the right of Boaz, kneeling, as he grips her right hand and gestures to the right. She is wearing a loosely-fitted, cream gown tied around the waist, with a panel of fabric draped over her left shoulder. The folds of her clothes are delineated in grey. A blue piece of fabric is wrapped around her head. While her clothes are embroidered with chenille thread, her arms, head, hair, and the blue headscarf are painted. Boaz is shown wearing a loose, dark cream gown with a red panel draped over his left shoulder and around his body. He wears a matching turban on his head. Like Ruth, Boaz’ clothing is stitched in chenille while is head and hands are painted.

The two figures are in front of two palm trees worked in chenille. To the left of the trees are chenille bushes, and to the right is wheat, stitched in silk thread. The ground is worked in various shades of brown, gold, and green chenille. In the background, to the right of the wheat, are some painted trees. Beneath the trees sit three female figures, also painted. The horizon is capped by painted mountains under a blue and pink sky.

The piece is framed in a bird’s-eye maple frame with simple molding that was on the piece at the time of Abby’s purchase.

Label:Biblical stories inspired many schoolgirls’ needlework projects in the early nineteenth century. Here Boaz has discovered Ruth in his field gleaning after the reapers. Crinkly silk chenille thread predominates in the embroidery and creates a rich surface texture. The contrasting effect of smooth silk thread used for a patch of golden wheat in the middle ground attracts the viewer’s attention to the central figures. Facial expressions and background details, including the figures of three reapers resting at right, are painted on the silk ground. An illustration that probably inspired the unidentified needleworker has not been located.
Provenance:Found in Hingham, MA by Katrina Kipper, Accord, MA;
Purchased by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller for use in Bassett Hall, 1936;
Given to CWF, 1979.
Mark(s):No marks or inscriptions.