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Embroidery design

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1854 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bland, Sarah, born 1810 - died 1905 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil and twentieth-century pen and blue ink on tracing paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs D. McGregor

  • Museum number:

    E.372:287-1967

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case 95, shelf C, box 101

Two designs, one of which is long and rectangular with a rounded end which was possibly for an embroidered lappet. Lappets were streamers, often of lace, ornamenting a headdress, cap, bonnet or the like, which either hung down or along the side of the face or which were pinned up.

The other design has a scalloped border consisting of floral motifs with a right-angled corner indicating that it might be for an apron or kerchief. These designs were probably traced by Sarah Bland (1810-1905), on paper watermarked '1854', from a commercially available pattern from a magazine such as The Lady's Newspaper.

These designs are in an album which includes Bland's collection of her own botanically accurate designs, simplified patterns from accurate botanical observation, patterns traced from magazines, commercial, printed Berlin wool work patterns, gifts of patterns, including commercial ones from friends and relatives. The designs include those for petit-point, bead-work, decoration for dresses, collars and cuffs, aprons, slippers, tablecloths and covers, cushions, bags, penwipers, initial letters, alphabets etc. In Bland's case, the gift of designs demonstrates connections between relatives of merchant and banking families and is of historical significance in bonding such families.

Physical description

Designs (2) in pencil with part of one design picked out in twentieth-century blue ink on tracing paper. Both of the designs feature stylised interlocking floral and leaf shapes. One of the designs, drawn horizontally near the bottom of the page is long and rectangular with a rounded end. This could possibly be for an embroidered lappet (streamers used to ornament headresses etc). The other design has a scalloped border surrounding smaller circles which decorate stylised floral motifs. It has a right-angled corner which indicates it might be used for an apron or kerchief.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

ca.1854 (made)

Artist/maker

Bland, Sarah, born 1810 - died 1905 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil and twentieth-century pen and blue ink on tracing paper

Marks and inscriptions

'WHATMAN 1854'
Watermark

Dimensions

Height: 20.4 cm, Width: 25.1 cm

Object history note

Historical significance: Within the study of embroidery, men tend to be recorded as professional embroiderers or pattern drawers, whereas women worked more ambiguously with designs for embroidery. Women's amateur as opposed to professional designs for embroidery raise problems because amateur work has tended to be regarded as less significant. Embroidery was a pastime but was also an economic activity. Upper middle class women's property was closely linked to their status within the family as daughters, wives and widows and only allowed semi-independence. This semi-independence was underpinned by legal, political, and social practices which subordinated them. Nevertheless, it was combined with recognition of their economic worth within the family enterprise. However, women were restricted as they often could not be openly involved in working for money. See L. Davidoff and C. Hall (Reference Tab). Bland could not be seen to be working but it is likely that she embroidered accessories for dress, penwipers, tablecloths, book covers, and cushions as gifts which were her contribution to the household, wider family, and friendship. The quality of her samplers and designs shows the value of such gifts in terms of relationships with family and friends.

Material about the perceptions of a woman's role is pertinent to the discourse on women and therefore gender history. In Bland's case, the gift of designs demonstrates connections between relatives of merchant and banking families and is of historical significance in bonding between such families.

Historical context note

Sarah Bland (1810-1905) was listed as a 'gentlewoman' in the 1851 census return and is not recorded as having any occupation in the census returns for 1871 and 1901 which is consistent with her social status.

Descriptive line

Designs (2) in pencil and blue ink on tracing paper, ca. 1854, by Sarah Bland (1810-1905).

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Davidoff, L and Hall, C. Family Fortunes, Men, Women of the English Middle Class 1780-1850. London: Routledge, 2002. 387 p.

Materials

Pencil; Ink; Tracing paper

Techniques

Drawing

Subjects depicted

Lappets; Kerchiefs; Borders; Aprons (protective wear); Flowers

Categories

Designs; Drawings; Embroidery; Textiles

Production Type

Design

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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