Saturday, November 23, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Needlepainting of Napoleon Bonaparte, 1825

Napoleon Bonaparte
Linwood, 1825
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Needlepainting, a type of embroidery, in which oils or other paintings were, as described by the V&A, “faithfully copied, with the brush strokes rendered by stitches worked in crewel wool,” was popularized in the second half of the Eighteenth Century. No one, however, was better known for needle painting than Mary Linwood (1756-1845) who is pictured in the post below.

Linwood, who lived in Leicester, exhibited needlework pictures at the Society of Artists in London. In 1787, she was introduced to Queen Charlotte (1744-1818), who encouraged an exhibition of some of her pictures at the Pantheon at Oxford Street.

In 1798 she opened an exhibition of sixty-four pieces, at the Hanover Square Concert Rooms in London, which eventually toured to Scotland and Ireland. After the tour, the collection returned to Linwood's own gallery in Leicester Square, where it remained on display until the artist’s death in 1845.

Her best known work was this needlepainting of Napoleon Bonaparte from 1825. It is said to have been done from life, and, was especially stunning in the gaslight of Linwood’s gallery—the first gallery in Britain to be illuminated by gas.

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