Candace Wheeler (American, 18271923)
Wool twill embroidered with wool and silk thread, silk velvet border; 22 x 22 1/2 in. (55.9 x 57.2 cm)
Gift of Candace Pullman Wheeler, 2002 (2002.355.1)
Designed by Wheeler soon after her return from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, this pillow cover is embroidered with Madonna lilies nearly identical to those on a curtain border exhibited there by London's Royal School of Needlework. English precedents supplied not only patterns but also the stitches and fabrics that Wheeler adopted early in her career. Made of a rough wool twill (bordered with silk velvet), this cover is embroidered mainly with wool yarn in a traditional crewel stitch. In its studied simplicity it echoes the early embroidery work of English designer William Morris. A proponent of the Arts and Crafts movement, Morris experimented with natural dyes and a variety of stitches to create works that evoked those of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the golden age of English embroidery.