An extremely rare and important embroidered crewel wool picture or 'needle painting' (as they were called at the time) by Mary Linwood. This picture is recorded in 1798 at an Exhibition of Miss Linwood's Pictures in Needlework at the Hanover Square Concert Rooms, No. X. During her lifetime Mary Linwood embroidered pictures or 'needle paintings' copying the old master by artists such as Raphael, Rubens, Gainsborough, Northcote and Morland and personalities of the time such as Napoleon. She had her wools specially dyed in Leicester and a woven, coarse linen tammy cloth prepared for her. Long and short stitches were used to look like brush strokes, with silk for highlights. Mary Linwood's success encouraged many amateur copies on a smaller scale. Born in Birmingham she moved to Leicester as a child where her mother opened a private boarding school for young ladies at The Priory, Belgrave Gate. Mary became a schoolmistress for much of her working life. Her first picture was done when she was 13 years of age and two or three more were completed before she was 20. She moved to London and opened an exhibition of her work at The Panthenon, Oxford Street. In 1776 and 1778 her pictures were seen at the exhibition of the Society of Artists. In 1785 she was summoned to court at Windsor by George III to show her work and according to the Morning Post 'several pieces of needlework wrought in a style superior to anything of the kind yet attempted' for which she received the Queen's 'highest encomiums'. In the following year she sent examples to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts and a medal was awarded to her, engraved with the words Excellent imitation of pictures in needlework. Her fame spread and the Empress Catherine of Russia in 1783 was pleased to accept an example of her work, the King of Poland was amongst her most fervent admirers. In 1808 Talleyrand introduced her to Napoleon, whose portrait she embroidered twice. He wanted her to take her exhibition to Paris, but was prevented by the outbreak of war between the two countries. She received the Freedom of Paris from him in 1825 for her portrait of him. In 1798 she began a series of exhibitions in London, first at the Pantheon, Oxford Street and then in the Hanover Square Concert Rooms where she showed thirty nine copies. In 1809 Mary Linwood moved into a permanent gallery at Savile House, Leicester Square, the former studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the property of the Earl of Aylesbury, where she held an exhibition of fifty-five 'needle paintings' . The exhibition remained opened until her death in 1845. She was a regular tourist attraction, mentioned in Curiosities of London and Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitors' Guide to its Sights in which the writer observed: "This beautiful style of needlework is the invention of a Leicestershire lady, and consists of fifty nine of the finest pictures in the English and foreign schools of art, possessing all the correct drawing, just colouring and light and shade of the original pictures from which they are taken; in a word, Miss Linwood's exhibition is one of the most beautiful the metropolis can boast and should unquestionably be witnessed, as it deserves to be, by every admirer of art". Her exhibitions were the first to be lit by gas lighting to enable viewing late into the afternoon and she displayed each picture in a specially designed scene, her work being popular for nearly 50 years. Other exhibitions were held in Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and Dublin. She exhibited until her death, her last work being completed when she was 75 having taken ten years to complete. The collection of 100 pictures was offered to the British Museum who could not accommodate it. After her death Christie's auctioned them at Saville House on 23 April 1846 with the exception of a few. In her will she left her embroidered picture after Salvator Mundi by the seventeenth century Carlo Dolci, to Queen Victoria. She had been offered three thousand guineas by the Marquis of Exeter of Burleigh House which she had refused. The whole collection fetched a disappointing £ 300. The public taste had been captured by the garish Berlin woolwork. The picture is entered under Miss Linwood's Gallery of Pictures in worsted, Leicester Square, 1813 no 27 under the entry above and had the poem above under the entry. It is also mentioned in Mary Linwood Centenary Exhibition March 1945 at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, no 13 being lent by Miss M E Cartwright. Her work is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Leicester Museum and Kew Palace, England. Leicester Council have erected a blue plaque near the site of her former home, The Priory which says Eminent needlework artist . She is buried in St Margaret's Church, Leicester. Moses Haughton the elder (1734-1804) from Wednesbury, near Birmingham was brought up as an enamel painter on Wednesbury enamel but is especially noted as a painter of still life. He occasionally exhibited works at the Royal Academy (1788-1904). See: Dictionary of National Biography, Volume X for information on Moses Haughton The Lady's Monthly Museum, July 1800 Bridgeman, Harriet & Drury, Elizabeth Needlework. An illustrated history p 68 Edwards, Joan Crewel Embroidery in England p 144, 146-9, 155, 228 Field, June Collecting Georgian and Victorian Crafts p 95, 97 Johnstone, Pauline Three Hundred Years of Embroidery 1600-1900 p 78 Synge, Lanto Antique Needlework p 63-4 Wardle, Patricia Guide to English Embroidery Victoria & Albert Museum p 39
PARTRIDGES after the painting by Moses Haughton Caught in the meshy snare, in vain they beat Their idle wings, entangled more and more: Nor on the surges of the boundless air, Tho' borne triumphant, are they safe; the gun, Glanc'd just, and sudden, from the fowler's eye, O'ertakes their sounding pinions; and again, Immediate, brings them from the tow'ring wing, Dead to the ground, or drives them wide dispers'd, Wounded, and wheeling various, down the wind. a 'needle painting' embroidered in crewel wools in long and short stitches with a pair of partridges, a little silk for highlighting, actual embroidery 23 x 19 in; 59 x48 cm; the frame 29 x 25in; 74 x 64 cm, original heavy gilt frame.
Excellent. This picture has been cleaned by a well known and professional conservator. It was extremely dirty and had been nailed with rusty nails to the stretched and had newspaper glued around the edges. The picture was removed from its stretcher, gently vacuum suctioned to removed loose dust and soiling. The picture was then cleaned in trichlovoethane solvent and soaked in changes of deionized water to remove soiling. Washed using a nonionic solution, rinsed using deionized water, soaked with a lubricating medium in deionized water, rinsed, paper removed from edges and dried. Then stitched to a fabric covered board. Put back into its original frame.
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