Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum has beefed up its collection of historic English embroidery, thanks to a generous donation from an organic butcher. Michael Feller and his wife, Elizabeth, of Upper Slaughter in England’s Cotswolds region, donated 61 pieces of 17th-century needlework worth around $800,000 to the gallery.
“My wife’s mother, Margaret, was a fantastic seamstress and planted a love of embroidery,” Feller, 69, tells the Oxford Mail. “After Elizabeth and I got married, we started to collect embroidered cushions from the 19th and 20th century. They were all hand-done, and that's how the collection got started.” He notes that the pieces he and his wife donated were given on the condition that at least some of them would remain on permanent display.
The donation includes pictorial panels, samplers, domestic items and costume pieces. According to the Ashmolean, the embroidery has historical significance beyond the display of technical ability. Created during one of the most turbulent centuries in English history, the embroideries illustrate the themes and concerns of the young women who made them.