Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, was an expert in the art of needlework and passed many an hour with her embroidery.
As gifts to her dearest friends, Queen Charlotte often created beautifully embroidered objects. Such as this intricately embroidered pocketbook which Queen Charlotte sent to her friend, Mrs. Delaney, with a note which said that she should wear, “this little Pocket-Book in order to remember at times, when no dearer Persons are present, a very sincere well wisher, Friend, and affectionate Queen, Charlotte.”
The purse was lined in pink satin and contained an assortment of gold and mother-of-pearl implements which would have been useful to any lady of the day.
The contents included scissors, a spoon, a pencil, a ruler, a knife, a compass, assorted ear spoons and scoops, and a bodkin.
The pocket book remained in Mrs. Delaney’s family for many years until it was acquired by Queen Mary and it is now in the Royal Collection at Windsor.
Queen Charlotte’s skill as a needlewoman is well recorded. The encouragement she gave to this female accomplishment is underlined by her financial support of Mrs Pawsey’s school for ‘embroidering females’ and her patronage of the unusually gifted needlewoman Mary Knowles.
Mary Morris Knowles, born of a Quaker family in Rugely, Staffordshire, was celebrated as much for her intellect and religious conviction as for her skill with the needle.
In 1771 she was introduced to Queen Charlotte and they remained friends for the next thirty years.
The Queen commissioned Mrs Knowles to make a copy of Zoffany’s portrait of George III in needlework or ‘needle painting’ as it was also known. This technique ‘so highly finished, that it has all the softness and Effect of painting’ was achieved with a combination of irregular satin-stitch and long-and-short stitch, worked on hand-woven tammy in an arbitrary pattern and at speed, using fine wool dyed in a wide range of colours.
In 1779 Mrs Knowles embroidered the self portrait showing her at work on the Zoffany which, like the earlier piece, she signed with initials and dated.
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