Take a look at our newly restored and re-framed George Washington needlework! Thanks to a recent collaboration between the Library, the Narragansett-Cooke-Gaspee Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Friends of Peace Dale Library, and the Textile Conservation Laboratory at the University of Rhode Island, our first President is looking great!
This large work of cross-stitch, worked in wool on cotton canvas, dates from the last half of the 19th century and has hung in the Library’s Rhode Island Room for many years. We do not know who created it or how it came to the Library.
But we do know it is based on Gilbert Stuart’s 1796 Landsdowne portrait of Washington, of which Stuart painted several versions, two of which can be seen in Rhode Island (one at the State House and one in Newport’s Colony House). Kits for “needlepainting” of portraits like the Landsdowne were popular in the Victorian era, and a tapestry such as this would be the finished product.
The conservation process removed years of dust and particles and revealed the vibrancy of the colors. The needlework is now supported on an acid-free backing and framed under protective glass.
The Library appreciates the generosity and support of the Narragansett-Cooke-Gaspee Chapter of the DAR and the Friends of the Peace Dale Library towards this project, and was pleased to work with the URI Textile Conservation Laboratory, which in restoring our artwork provided a hands-on, real-world learning experience for Master’s-level students of Textile Conservation.