Early French Silk Chenille Embroidery on Peau De Soie
The find of a lifetime, this framed and glazed still life of a basket of flowers is an early French silk chenille embroidery on peau de soie. Luxurious and long-lasting, silk is considered the "Queen of Embroidery Threads". Silk chenille is a furry sort of embroidery thread resembling a caterpillar. Chenille in French means caterpillar. Silk chenille offers a rich softness cotton or synthetic chenilles do not.
The embroidery work here is very dimensional and may be mistaken for stumpwork. The chenille quality, however, is prominent in this still life, with chenille threads piled one on top of another, giving exciting dimension to the composition. To maintain serenity and quiet down some of the movement caused by the wild texture, the colors used are muted. Time has softened them even more with a mild fade evenly throughout.
The frame is magnificent. It is fancy, but not to a fault. It is wood with a gesso or similar decorating, japaning to the wood and gilding to the decoration. This is most likely not the original frame, but was done professionally probably at the turn of the 19th into the 20th centuries. The art paper on the back has darkened with age. We have not opened the picture to examine the back of the silk fabric embroidery base. From an historic home in the Mid-Hudson Valley of NYS. 23" X 22" X 3 3/4"; unpacked, this work weighs about 10#.
Note of interest: Silk chenille work has been favored for hundreds of years. Our fourth picture shows a British mirror frame made during the third quarter 17th century. Our lasts photo shows a scrap of 18th century silk embroidered with chenille roses. Both pictures are from the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.