|ELABORATE SAILOR’S SOUVENIR EMBROIDERY FROM THE ORIENT WITH A BEAUTIFUL HAND-PAINTED IMAGE OF WASHINGTON CROSSING THE DELAWARE, SURROUNDED BY A LARGE EAGLE, FEDERAL SHIELD, CROSSED FLAGS, A CANNON, CANNONBALLS, AND ANCHOR, circa 1885-1910
|Frame Size (H x L):||45" x 31"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||39" x 25"|
|Between roughly 1880 and 1915, American sailors visiting the orient could obtain beautiful needlework embroideries on shore, with patriotic American themes. These extraordinary works of art were acquired as mementos of a long voyage, often with the hope that they might be presented as gifts for loved ones and friends.
Using silk floss, elaborately embellished with both silver and gold metallic bullion thread, and combining various types of embroidery work and stitchery, as well as trapunto work to make them three-dimensional, artists created these elaborate pictures, making standardized designs or customizing them to the buyer's content. Executed on satin, like this example, or sometimes on velvet, the most common devices included eagles, flags, and shields, often with various maritime elements.
This particular example features a spread-winged, war-like eagle, with a cluster of arrows in each talon, above a canted, federal shield, flanked on either side by trios of American national flags, with metallic finials and tassels. In the lower center is a rectangular window, also bullion, with embroidered stars, that frames a rendition of Washington crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Eve to surprise British troops on Christmas Day. Expertly painted in watercolor on cloth, with beautiful colors and great detail, this image reproduces the 1851 oil-on-canvas painting by the German-American artist Emanuel Leutze. Note the artist’s liberty in the background that appears to feature Mt. Fugi on a mountainous, Japanese landscape, as opposed to the banks of the Delaware in New Jersey.
An anchor emerges from beneath the frame, flanked by crossed cannons and cannon balls. Along the bottom is a billowing streamer with the familiar American motto, in Latin, "E Pluribus Unum" (out of many, one).
This particular embroidery was made by “The Geo. Washington Company” in Yokohama, Japan. G. Fukughi opened his firm in 1880, with the intention of producing souvenirs for an audience of American Navymen. Advertising as a “Dealer in Fine Art Goods,” Fukughi employed expert painters and embroiderers who painstakingly produced these extraordinary textiles with some of the finest handwork one can encounter. His extraordinary business sold goods at points all over the orient, including not only Japan, but China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Korea, the Philippines, and elsewhere. I have seen them from ports as far as Hawaii. Over many years of viewing these textiles, I have seen dated examples as late as early as the 1880’s and as late as 1915. Due to the Spanish-American War (1898) and Roosevelt’s famous world tour of the “White Fleet” (1907-1909), this was an extremely patriotic era. Many of the members of the Great White Fleet came home with these embroideries.
Washington Crossing the Delaware was among the most elaborate of Fukughi’s standard designs. In my opinion, it was the best of them, especially when it did not include an open window for a portrait of the sailor.
When examining the level of craftsmanship, note the glass eye employed in the eagle and the tassels, carefully knotted from metallic bullion thread. Also note the treatment of the raised feathers on the legs, the scales on the talons, and the spiraling chain of the anchor. I have seen many of these embroideries, and while the mix of images here is not unusual, the attractive way in which they are sewn and displayed is excellent, as are the colors. The yellow in the wings is especially eye-catching.
Mounting: The textile was framed in our own conservation department. The black-painted and gilded molding is Italian, with a traditional American profile. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglas.
Condition: Minor foxing in the painting. Minor to modest breakdown in the embroidery in the blue portion of the flags, accompanied by some fading in this region. Two of the stars are significantly soiled. The overall condition is extraordinary.
|Collector Level:||Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1885|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1910|
|War Association:||1898 Spanish American War|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|