CharacteristicsDelicate shading Stitches - long and short stitch.
When the first embroidered silks from China reached Rome in the 3rd C, the Romans, amazed at their beauty and magnificence, aptly described the art as ‘painting with a needle’.
The silk threads and fabrics were rarely seen in Europe. European embroideries by contrast were largely of wool on canvas, linen or woollen fabric.
Embroidery in the East has always been amongst the most important art forms and predated the development of watercolour painting. During the old dynasties in China, embroidery was used everywhere – on every type of garment, accessory and room decoration, on temple robes, religious banners, wall hangings and scrolls. Embroiderers were honoured professionals and the imperial family alone employed thousands.
In needlepainting, great care is taken with the blending of colours for it is the delicate shading which makes the projects more life-like.
In 18th C Europe, with renewed interest in the old masters, men and women diligently copied paintings. Shortly after, embroiderers took up copying paintings in needle and thread, even to the extent of imitating the brush strokes. In America these works are called pictorial or coloured embroideries. Pictures were professionally drawn on silk, the flesh parts being painted in and the rest left to the embroiderers to work in long and short satin stitch.
Embroideries found in 2000 years old Chinese tombs, reveal the same stitches as are used today.