Monday, 25 April 2011

Rebecca Crompton (1895–1947)

Rebecca Crompton (was Soar) was born on 7th August 1895 in Derby.  She studied drawing and design at Derby School of Art and became a teacher of ‘embroidery and women’s crafts’ and Northampton School of Art.  Rebecca went on to teach embroidery and dress design at Croydon School of Art and by 1930 had become an examiner for the Industrial Design examination in Embroidery and Women’s Crafts set by the Board of Education.  Rebecca was also an examiner in Embroidery for other institutions and was involved in the City and Guilds of London Institute.  She also lectured at the Royal College of Art. 

RCCelebrationAbove: Celebration.  Hand embroidery worked on linen in Russian drawn ground and laid work stitches.  Given to Derby Museums and Art Gallery in 1998.  Source: (click on image to open direct source)

In 1935 Rebecca retired from teaching to focus on her own work and published ‘Modern Design in Embroidery’ the following year.  A major exhibition of her work at the Batsford Gallery and the Derby Art Gallery accompanied the book.

Rebecca spent a lot of time with the Embroidery Department of the Singer sewing machine company between 1937 and 1939 and developed designs that were machine stitched by Dorothy Benson.  Here Rebecca learnt about the relatively unexplored machine embroidery.


Above: Adam and Eve.  Hand embroidery.  Acquired by Derby Museums and Art Gallery in 1971.  Source: (click on image to open direct source)

Rebecca was deeply affected by the Second World War (1939-1945) and sadly suffered a complete breakdown.  She died in August 1947.

The Magic Garden, rebecca cromptonAbove: The Magic Garden.  Applique and hand embroidery.  Source: Embroidered Pictures by Dorothy Tucker (see references).

Rebecca has been credited with revolutionising the traditional craft of embroidery and taking it into the 20th century, using bright (often clashing) colours and patterns and using non-traditional fabrics (e.g gauze). 

Chapter 12 - Rebecca Crompton


Derby City Council:

Craft Council:

Tucker, D., 1994. Embroidered Pictures. London: A & C Black (Publishers) Ltd.

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