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two antimacassars

Core Record

Object Name two antimacassars
Date mid 20th century
Brief Physical Description Two long rectangles of fine white linen, one larger than the other, with an embroidered white on white decoration based on elongated pillars toped with dishes of trailing flowers.
Object Description Information Two fine white linen elongated rectangles with a very fine white on white hand embroidered decoration on one half of each rectangle. The design in the smaller of the two rectangles is based on three tall pillars topped with dishes of trailing flowers and the design in the larger rectangle on five pillars. Each pillar is described in fine lines of pulled thread embroidery with a spray of satin stitch and running stitch flowers adorning the bottom. At the top an urn of flowers sits with a central bunch of stylised flowers and leaves in a central position and a long trailing strand of flowers falling down either side of the pillar. A scalloped edge in buttonhole stitch with a small spray of flowers motif at the two lower corners finish the two rectangles. The craftsmanship is of a very high standard and the finished pieces elegant.
Accession Number 4386
Subject embroidery, lace, domestic textiles, white work, lace, chair back, antimacassar, linen, chinese
Measurements 490mm (smaller rectangle) 640mm (larger) x 240mm (smaller) 460mm (larger)
Number Of Items 2
Materials Used (aat) linen
Materials Used (CH) buttonhole stitch, satin stitch
Content And Subject Information Chair backs, or antimacassars were placed on the backs, behind the head, and on the arms of upholstered or ‘easy' chairs. The chair backs were washable and prevented stains from hair oil [macassar oil] and grease from dirty hands ruining the upholstery.

To recover a chair would have been expensive. Often upholstery fabric was hand embroidered or expensively woven. During the Victorian period in Britain, chairs were often covered with Berlin wool work; a canvas embroidery technique, elaborate and time consuming. Prior to that chairs were sometimes covered with Jacobean embroidery. The household would not be pleased to see their elegant possession ruined by grease.
Production Information These fine white work embroideries were produced in China specifically for the Western market. The designs would have originated in Europe but highly skilled workers in a workshop situation in China would have created the fine hand embroidery.
Rights Goldsmiths, University of London. Constance Howard Resource and Research Centre in Textiles
Style Period Victorian style
Techniques Used (aat) drawn thread work



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