Michener Art Museum

Georgiana Brown Harbeson


Georgiana Harbeson with illustration by Frank Godwin, The Beacon, 1978, photo courtesy of James A. Michener Art Museum archives
CRAFTSPERSON, NONFICTION WRITER, PAINTER
BORN: May 13, 1894, New Haven, Connecticut
DIED: July 29, 1980, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania


Georgiana Brown Harbeson pioneered modern needlework in the United States during the late 1920's and the 1930's. She was the author of two comprehensive books and numerous articles on needlework, as well as designs and articles for many women's magazines such as Vogue, Woman's Home Companion, and Ladies Home Journal, her work often appearing on the cover. She developed her crewel and needlepoint embroideries by making a watercolor sketch or "cartoon", worked the sketch into a pattern and applied it to fabric. The colors came from a "palette of wool". Georgiana began doing needlework at the age of seven, when she was taught embroidery by a nun at a Quebec Convent school. She became a most sought after stitchery artist, commissioned by churches, including the National Cathedral in Washington DC, to design cushions, stall seats and kneelers for the Chapel of St. Joseph. Her work has been collected by museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In addition to these accomplishments, she designed costumes and stage sets for theater and ballet. Georgiana Brown Harbeson is remembered for elevating stitchery to an art form.