Painting and embroidered allegorical picture (1804)
by Maria Crowninshield (bap. 1789-1870)
Dorchester, Massachusetts
Silk, watercolor, metallic thread, and reverse painting on glass
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Francis B. Lothrop, 1980
Peabody Essex Museum, 18627

“In August of 1804, Maria Crowninshield at the age of fifteen years wrote a letter from the Ladies’ Academy, Clifton HIll, in Dorchester, Massachusetts, to her sister Hannah at home in Salem in which she described the school as ‘this delightful mansion of happiness.’ Maria attended the academy run by Mrs. Judith Saunders and Miss Clementina Beach that was renowned for the painted and embroidered pictures based on popular engravings and prints that were created by its students....

The subject of the embroidery is an allegorical scene about female education in the early nineteenth century.  It depicts a schoolmistress instructing a pupil in an architectural setting that suggests a temple of learning.”

Quoted in Pula Bradstreet Richter, Painted with Thread: The Art of American Embroidery.  (Salem, MA: Peabody Essex Museum, 2000): 54.