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Connecticut women have long been noted for their creation of colorful and distinctive needlework, including samplers and family registers, bed rugs and memorial pictures, crewel-embroidered bed hangings and garments, silk-embroidered pictures of classical or religious scenes, quilted petticoats and bedcovers, and whitework dresses and linens. This volume offers the first regional study, encompassing the full range of needle arts produced prior to 1840. Seventy entries showcase more than one hundred fascinating examples--many never before published--from the Connecticut Historical Society's extensive collection of this early American art form. Produced almost exclusively by women and girls, the needle arts provide an illuminating vantage point for exploring early American women's history and education, including family-based traditions predating the establishment of formal academies after the American Revolution. Extensive genealogical research reveals unseen family connections linking various types of needlework, similar to the multi-generational male workshops documented for other artisan trades, such as woodworking or metalsmithing. Photographs of stitches, reverse sides, sketches, design sources, and related works enhance our understanding and appreciation of this fragile art form and the talented women who created it. An exhibition of needlework in this book will be held at the Connecticut Historical Society in late fall, 2010. Funding for this project has been provided by the Coby Foundation, Ltd., and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Connecticut River Valley was an important center for the teaching and production of embroidered pictures by young women in private academies from the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth century. This book identifies the distinctive styles developed by teachers and students at schools throughout the valley, from Connecticut and Massachusetts to Vermont and New Hampshire. Needlework was a means of instilling the values of citizenship, faith, knowledge, and patriotism into girls who would become mothers in the early republic. This book describes and illustrates how these embroideries provide insight into the nature of women's schooling at this time. Over the course of their education, girls undertook progressively more complex and difficult needlework. Before the age of ten, they stitched elementary samplers on linen. As the culmination of their studies, they executed elaborate samplers, memorials, and silk pictures as evidence of the skills and accomplishments befitting a lady. Proudly displayed as enticements to potential suitors, these pieces affirmed a young woman's mastery of the polite arts, which encompassed knowledge of religious and literary themes as well as art and music.This publication has been made possible through the generous support of The Coby Foundation, Ltd., the Connecticut Humanities Council, the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, and several private donors.