By an unknown, but recognisable pattern drawer who signs with a frog motive, by whom over twenty compositions have been identified.
An unfinished brightly coloured panel drawn on linen canvas; worked in the fine tent stitch the design incorporates incidents relating to the Old Testament Apocryphal heroine Judith and the Assyrian general, Holofernes. The story of Judith served as a role model for women in the 16th and 17th centuries illustrating female virtue triumphing over vice. Prints of this subject by Gerard de Jode in Thesaurus Sacrarum Historiarum Veteris Testamenti, Antwerp 1585, Stent 1662 and Overton 1673 were popular and adapted for embroidery.
The unfinished state provides a rare opportunity to study methods used in the execution of such work. The design having been pricked out and then inked in by joining the small dotted pounce marks to trace out the design. The brilliance of the carefully shaded coloured silks would indicate that this piece has been kept for many years out of the light.
Morshead family by descent to 2008
Victoria and Albert Museum, Morshead Loan
See: Kathleen Staples, Embroidered Furnishings: Questions of Production and Usage, in ‘Twixt Art and Nature: English Embroidery from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580-1700, exhibition catalogue page 35. (See figure 4-2 and catalogue no. 58 for illustrated examples by the same designer)..
Although the identities of individual professional pattern drawers and embroiderers are often unknowable, the hand of a professional can be discerned in subtle ways … For example, the anonymous artist …included in the foreground a small frog in a bundle of reeds … and the same motif can be found in over twenty compositions of various Old Testament subjects without borders … Comparisons among all of these embroideries may reveal a discrete vocabulary of motifs from which the artist – or members of his workshop – drew for his clients.