White-on-white embroidery was a particularly popular adornment for clothing and household linens in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when its simplicity was associated with the beauty of classical sculpture and architecture. In the absence of color, the embroiderer of this fragment skillfully combined a variety of stitches in cotton and silk to mimic the natural textures of the oak leaves and acorns, resulting in an eye-catching and tactile design. According to family tradition, Martha Washington embroidered it.


Rectilinear length of plain-woven, white cotton, embroidered in white cotton and silk with a border of intertwined oak branches with leaves and acorns; the fragment is composed of two pieces of cloth whose selvedge ends have been seamed together near one short end with a .19" seam stitched with running or back stitch and closed with whip stitch; the cap of each acorn is embroidered with French knots, while satin stitch is used for the remaining design elements; the body of each acorn is embroidered with white silk, while cotton was used for the rest of the design; a line of what appear to be very small stitch holes is visible along one long side.

Frame: Convex-molded, stained wood frame with narrow inner fillet, and outer, gilded border impressed with a scallop design; a brass ring hanger is screwed into the center top edge of the frame; "L" stamped within a horizontal diamond at the lower proper right corner of the frame; appears to be a twentieth-century example.


c. 1800




Cotton, silk


Overall: 10 1/4 in. x 5 1/8 in. (26.04 cm x 13.03 cm)
Other (Embroidered design): 4 in. (10.16 cm)
Other (Frame): 7 7/8 in. x 12 7/8 in. (20.02 cm x 32.72 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of The Monica and Hermen Greenberg Foundation, 2006

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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