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Needlework Picture

1917.284 (RS103735)


Mourning picture worked in silk on a silk satin ground a woman and a small boy dressed in blue lean on either side of a memorial with two urns on top. A man at left points to the urns. There is one large weeping willow tree at left. The sky and the faces and hands of the people are painted. The piece is framed and under a reverse painted (eglomise) glass.


Published in Betty Ring, Girlhood Embroidery, 83. On August 5, 1805 schoolmistress (and needlework teacher) Abby Wright of South Hadley, Massachusetts mentioned this needlework picture to her half-sister in a letter. Ring quotes the letter as follows "We called at the Rev. Mr. Howard's to see a piece of needlework lately executed at a celebrated school in Boston...The piece I refer to was wrought by a Miss Lyman in memory of both her parents...the expense of drawing and painting the faces was eight dollars and six months spent in Boston in working it. Comparing this with the labor of six or eight weeks in the country by a country girl without the assistance of a limner we might expect as great a contrast as we find." Abby Wright Allen: A Record of her Letters, etc., 1795-1842, 76-7. Mount Holyoke College Library, South Hadley, Massachusetts. Mary probably worked this at Mrs. Rowson's Academy in Medford.
Lyman, Mary (Embroiderer)
ca. 1804
Painted, ""M. Lyman Ob. Oct. 23 1802/ S. Lyman Ob June 5 1802"" ""Leave thy fatherless Children I will/preserve them alive"" ""For I/know that my Reedemer liveth."" / ""And though worms destroy this/ body yet in my flesh shall I see God/ For this mortal must perish / IMMORTALITY""
Location of origin
Object type
Probably Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)
Probably Massachusetts (United States)
Descriptive terms
funerary art
Picture, Needlework
35 x 29 3/4 (HxW) (inches)
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift from Miss Isabelle Robinson


Inscription Dates #

AvatarPosted by Jamie Brummitt on September 26, 2012
You may want to check the inscription dates listed on the website for this piece of needlework. I think they should be listed as 1802, not 1807. Betty Ring lists both dates as 1802 in Girlhood Embroidery (vol. 1, p. 82) and the letter from Abbey Wright is dated 1805. That is, I think the Lymans were dead by the time the needlework was made and written about by Abbey Wright. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you do not think this is correct.

Thank you for your interest in our collection #

AvatarPosted by Laura Johnson on September 26, 2012
You are absolutely correct. This was a typing error that occurred during data entry. Thank you so much for pointing this out to us. The error has been corrected and should appear on the web catalog entry shortly. While we constantly strive for accurate and thorough catalog records of more than 100,000 objects, occasionally errors occur. It is with the support and interest of the public that we can locate and correct potential problems and typographical errors such as this. Thank you once again.

Laura Johnson
Associate Curator