Needlework picture "Fetching Water"

Collection Type

  • Textiles






This large needlework picture is worked in silk and wool thread on a painted silk background. It depicts a young woman standing before a stream. She holds a water jug in her right hand and supports a young child on her back with the left hand. A small cottage and trees form the pastoral landscape behind her. The picture is set in an eglomise mat, painted with the title and the artist's name. It is not in the original frame.


Descriptive Terms

needlework (visual works)
silk (textile)
crewel wool
paint (coating)
Picture, Needlework


Mary Ann Hale completed this well-executed silk embroidered picture while a student of Susanna Rowson's Academy in 1814. Based on a stipple engraving by Thomas Nugent after an original painting by English artist John Hoppner, the needlework bears the same title as the original painting. Mary Ann's letters to her father are full of charming details about her school life at Mrs. Rowson's and how work progressed on her embroidery. Mary Ann was the daughter of William Hale, New Hampshire's Federalist Congressman. Hale hired Bradbury Johnson in 1806 to build his stately home in Dover, where this needlework originally hung. In 1818, four years after leaving Mrs. Rowson's, Mary Ann married Dr. Nathaniel Low. They lived in South Berwick, Maine until their deaths, only six months apart, in 1883. Mrs. Rowson's Academy for Young Ladies was among the best-known and well-regarded schools for young women in the early 19th century. An acclaimed actress and novelist born to an English mother and American father, Susanna Haswell Rowson began her professional life as the governess of Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire's children. After a full career as an actress on both sides of the Atlantic, she retired from the stage to open her Boston school in 1797. Rowson's students produced a wide range of fine needlework pictures from 1797 until the school closed in 1822. She died two years later.

Associated Building

Original To William Hale House,

Additional Identification Number



Hale, Mary Ann (Embroiderer)
Miss Rowson's Academy for Young Ladies

Location of Origin

Boston, MA


22 1/2 x 16 1/2 (HxW) (inches)

Credit Line

Museum Purchase

Accession Number



Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)