Biblical themes were often the most popular subject matters for 17th, 18th and early 19th century embroideries. Most were first brought to life through paintings and women’s magazines of the day so that copying them was not a problem for needleworkers. Elijah was a prophet and miracle worker of the 9th century B.C.E. revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews. This embroidery depicts Elijah near a brook receiving food via ravens sent by God while the prophet is hiding from King Ahab.

The embroidery was worked in French knots, satin stitch, crewel stitch and long and short stitches in both handspun and hand-dyed wool yarn as well as silk floss. The use of French knots is profuse and serves to depict leaves of shrubs and tree and some other flora in the foreground. Elijah’s red shawl was done in long and short stitches in soft wool yarn. His robes were embellished gold silk floss.

Most of the background was hand painted in watercolor, including mountains, a waterfall and the clouded sky. Elijah’s face, hands and feet were also painted in watercolor, as was the style of the day.

The primary colors used were the most traditional colors of the time; that is, shades of teal blue, browns and golds, along with rusts and pinks. These colors harmonize well with each other, imparting a traditional ambience to the work.

The piece is housed in an antique, wide, turned, black-jappaned wood frame.

The condition of the silkwork and woolwork embroidery is excellent, especially for its age of some 200 years. The color retention of the hand-dyed and handspun yarn is just short of amazing. The hand painted background silk is in excellent condition as well. The frame is in excellent condition for its age. There is crazing to the paint and some losses to the wood; however, these only add to its antique character.

It measures 30 inches wide by 24-½ inches high, including the frame.


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Perry-Joyce Fine Arts

Georgian Late-18th Century Embroidery Depicting Elijah and the Ravens


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    Perry-Joyce Fine Arts

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