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Collections Blog

Object: Tapestry

Oct 01, 2018

I-0114A
Tapestry
Texan
Woven in France
Late 1920’s
Materials: Cloth, Thread

This tapestry was commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Ross S. Sterling of Houston, Texas during the late 1920’s. The tapestry has several images that represent the natural environment of Texas and several scenes from Texas history. The overall concept of the tapestry is based off of a painting of similar proportions that was also commissioned and designed by Mr. and Mrs. Sterling. The painting was completed in New York, but the tapestry was woven in France. When the tapestry was completed it was displayed in the Sterling home in Houston for a number of years.

Sterling

Ross S Sterling. Image via HoustonHistory.com

Ross S. Sterling was born in February of 1875 and served as Governor of Texas from 1931 to 1933. Sterling was involved in several business ventures throughout his life, including the oil industry. In 1910 Sterling founded the Humble Oil Company. It in turn became the parent company of the Humble Oil Corporation and in 1973, the Exxon Corporation. Sterling sold his interest in the oil company in 1925 and used his profits to purchase the Houston Dispatch and the Houston Post in 1926. He later combined them as the Houston Post-Dispatch, which later became the Houston Post. He became the Chairman of the Texas Highway Commission under Governor Dan Moody and turned it into a consistent highway program. Sterling became the Governor of Texas after beating out Miriam A. “Ma” Ferguson in the Democratic primary, but became a one-term Governor after losing to Ferguson in the following election.  After leaving the Governor’s office he retired from politics but continued his ventures in the oil industry. He died in Fort Worth on March 25, 1949, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.

The border of the tapestry shows different plant and animal life native to Texas. At the top, in the center, are six flags with a star. The flags represent the six countries that have held sovereignty over some or all of the territory that today is the State of Texas. They are Spain, France, United Mexican States (Mexico), Republic of Texas, Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. The portraits in the corners are Stephen F Austin (Upper Left Corner), Moses Austin (Upper Right Corner), David Crockett (Lower Left Corner), and William Wharton (Lower Right Corner). The center image depicts the surrender of Santa Anna to Sam Houston after the Battle of San Jacinto. The bottom image depicts the cabin where the Texas Rebels declared their independence from Mexico.

If you would like to know more about the Texas Revolution we have several blogs referencing the events and offering more details. You can see them here.

Additional Resources:
Campbell, Randolph B. 2003. Gone to Texas: a history of the Lone Star State. New York: Oxford University Press.

Crisp, James E. 2005. Sleuthing the Alamo: Davy Crockett’s last stand and other mysteries of the Texas Revolution. New York [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press.

Hatch, Thom. 1999. Encyclopedia of the Alamo and the Texas revolution. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.

Johnson, Benjamin Heber. 2003. Revolution in Texas: how a forgotten rebellion and its bloody suppression turned Mexicans into Americans. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Lagarde, Franc̦ois. 2003. The French in Texas: history, migration, culture. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Sterling, Ross S. 2012. Ross sterling, texan: a memoir by the founder of humble oil and refining company. [S.l.]: University Of Texas Press.

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