This cross stitch embroidery of Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was done in black thread on fine linen. Her profile is set in an oval that is surmounted by an escutcheon similar to that in the Seal of the President of the United States, flanked by oak leaves.* This symbol is, of course, appropriate for the woman who was both wife of a president and the mother of another president. The design of the embroidery echoes the hollow-cut silhouette of Mrs. Adams that was cut by Raphael Peale (1774-1825), probably made in October 1804 when the artist stayed with the Adamses, who were the first family to occupy the White House. The Peale silhouette is shown in the next to last photo. It depicts Mrs. Adams at the age of 65, wearing one of the bonnets she favored, just as in the embroidery.
The embroidery is well done and not a stitch is broken and there are no stains. There is a small black dot in the bottom right corner, unobtrusive but mentioned for accuracy. It's set in concave 1 3/4 inch wide wood molding painted black, with the framed size approximately 11 by 13 inches and 1 1/2 inches high. Definitely home-framed, the dust paper on the back was swiped with black and the double wire is held in place on one side by an old, flat metal thumb tack, a make-do job that worked. The piece weighs 1 pound, 10 ounces and is in excellent condition, including the frame and glass. The color of the linen has slightly yellowed over the years (the white color of the linen in the close-up photo is not accurate, due to lighting). It's a handsome artwork that is eye-catching in a grouping or by itself.
*The official tree of Washington D.C. is the scarlet oak.
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