Joseph Interpreting the Dream of King Pharaoh

Description
By the 1840s a new technique [in the field] of needlepoint known as Berlin wool work was the rage. It arose in Germany at the beginning of the 19th century. New dyes became available and brightly colored wools could be worked in tent stitch on canvas. The patterns were painted by hand on “point paper,” which today would be called graph paper. Some of the patterns were copies of famous paintings.
This large canvas work picture came in an elaborate glazed gold frame with a mat of black paint and gold leaf on the inside of the glass. The inscription across the bottom is “Eliza Gleason, Joseph Interpreting the Dream of King Pharaoh January 1st, 1870.” The original frame was removed since it needed repair, and the work was reframed for exhibit from 1976 to 1981. The ground is cotton canvas and the threads are wool and silk.
According to the biblical story, Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret for him. His chief cupbearer then remembered that Joseph had interpreted a dream for him when he was in prison two years earlier. So, Joseph was “brought from the dungeon” and shaved and changed his clothes. He then came before Pharaoh and told him that his dream meant there would be seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt followed by seven years of famine. Joseph recommended that “a discerning and wise man” be put in charge and that food should be collected in the good years and stored for use during the famine. This seemed like a good idea to Pharaoh and Joseph ended up with the job (Genesis 41).
Eliza Gleason was born in February 1839, in Connecticut. She married Robert Gleason ca. 1864 in Brooklyn, New York. She stitched this after she was married. In the 1870 Kings County, New York, census, she has an eight year old and a baby.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
embroidery, picture
date made
1870
maker
Gleason, Eliza
Physical Description
cotton (ground material)
silk (thread material)
wool (thread material)
Measurements
overall: 47 in x 39 in; 119.38 cm x 99.06 cm
place made
United States: New York, Kings county
ID Number
TE*T17202.01
accession number
316362
catalog number
T17202
subject
Textiles
Embroidered Pictures
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Embroidered Pictures
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Gail Sullivan

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