Price on request
A very fine English Silk Stumpwork lined mirror, with a faux tortoise finish done circa 1680 to 1750. The fine detailed stumpwork depicting the English King above symbols of North America The mirror measuring 69” x 38”
Stumpwork became popular in the 17th century, with it peaking between 1650 and 1690, although the term stumpwork was only used from the end of the 19th century. Before that time however, it was known as raised work or embossed work, which dates back to the 15th century. The work was highly padded and involved intricate designs, inspired by Europe’s ecclesiastical embroidery. Sadly, interest in this wonderful technique diminished when new ideas and inspiration from the orient swept across England at the start of the 18th century.
Through the course of the 17th century, hand embroidery was seen as part of a wealthy child’s education, with stumpwork being the ultimate, final piece. Girls would first practice their skills with canvas, beading and whitework techniques alongside band samplers, refining their skills before starting work on the stumpwork casket. This was a chance for them to pull together everything they had learnt so far and refine their skills. It would take them many years to complete these projects and if you ever have the privilege of seeing a piece up close you will certainly be able to appreciate why it takes so long.
Designs were drawn up by professionals in the form of kits. The most famous projects are the stumpwork caskets and there are some wonderful examples in the V&A. However there is also evidence of it being used on tray’s, book covers, gloves and mirror frames. The professionals would also provide the young girls with carved hands and fruit to add to the kit. Once the embroidery was completed it would have been made up into the casket/mirror frame by a professional. The caskets would be used to hold trinkets, jewellery, needlework tools, cosmetics and small personal items.