Needlework picture
Ann Flower
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 1755
Linen, silk
Museum purchase with funds provided by the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle 2017.0022a

Clothes wear out. In the eighteenth century, one repaired them rather than throw them away. Darning formed an important part of a young woman’s needlework education as she learned stitches meant to blend into the fabric and smooth over the holes. Women labored to make their darning invisible. Ann Flower’s unusual and exuberant picture does the opposite. Ann celebrated intricate detail, creating a picture with blossoms, animals, and pastoral ground, each worked in a different stitch pattern.

 Ann Flower came from a prolific needleworking family. Ann (1743–1778) and her sisters Mary (1744–1778) and Elizabeth (1742–1781) produced coats of arms, prayer book covers, table covers, pocketbooks, pictures, and samplers. Ann’s picture is the earliest of any pieces by the Flower sisters and relates to two others in the Winterthur collection, along with her sketchbook.