RARE Antique Eighteenth Century French Hand Colored Wood Cut Engraving and Embroidery Devotional Monastery Work
The frame itself was cut from hard paper board (perhaps the binding of a book which was in poor condition). The frame is covered (hand sewn) in rose silk damask on the back side and pale creme covered silk on the front. The front portion is padded (as in stump work) which gives a fine depth and dimension to the regard. The outer portion of the front frame has an elegant design which is hand embroidered in green, yellow, blue and pink. The scrolling flowers seem to float along the frame; the use of long stitches placed close together give a richness to the embroidered elements.
The center square is a large eighteenth century engraving (a wood cut engraving, a wooden block was carved for the image) which has been hand colored. The representation of St. Catherine of Alexandria is very regal, richly colored in deep blue, terracotta red and burgundy. Scrolls, leaves and arabesques surround her, each element painted with watercolor (gouache) which adds a sheer deep color in which the engraved lines shine through. At the top right corner a dove appears from a "rayonnant" cloud, flying towards her left shoulder.
The outer top edge has a hand sewn metal braid (accordion folds). The outer edge has a fancy metallic hand crochet edging (it is stiff and at one point in time fanned out flat to display the scalloped pattern). There is a remnant of a blue silk ribbon at the top. It measures: 7" tall x 5 1/4" wide. The engraving measures 4 1/2" x 3 1/4". The frame measures 3/8" tall from the tabletop. It is in very good antique condition: The silk and damask have darkened with time. The engraving has darkened with time. There are tiny spots in the silk fabric and some remains of metallic braid French knots around the edge (most knots are not present). The colors remain brilliant, the embroidery is intact. The metallic edging braid is worn as is typical with a very fragile material that is over 200 years old.
We are always amazed that these pieces survive: we give respect and honor to the people throughout history who cherished and protected them. These fragile devotional works are becoming so very hard to find. Each remaining example is precious in it's own right, representing the devotion and artistic work from an eighteenth century monastery or convent.
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