1955.0137 A, B Needlework Picture and Frame
  • 1955.0137 A, B Needlework Picture and Frame
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Needlework picture (Silkwork picture)

  • Category:

    Textiles (Needlework)

  • Creator (Role):

    Mary Jennison (Maker)

  • Place of Origin:

    Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, New England, United States, North America

  • Date:


  • Materials:

    Silk; Metallic thread

  • Techniques:

    Embroidered, Woven (plain)

  • Museum Object Number:

    1955.0137 A

  • Complete Details

Object Number

1955.0137 A

Object Name

Needlework picture (Silkwork picture)


Textiles (Needlework)

Credit Line/Donor

Gift of Henry Francis du Pont

Creator (Role)

Mary Jennison (Maker)
Mary (Polly) Jennison worked this silk needlework picture while at school in Salem, Massachusetts in 1773. She was 18 years old. Mary was born in Mendon, Massachusetts in 1755 to her father William Jennison (1732-1798) and mother Mary Staples. Mary's aunt, Mary Jennison Giles (d. 1784) lived in Salem. Mary may have stayed with her aunt to in order to attend school under the tutelage of Samuel Blythe and his wife. Mary Jennison was married in Douglas, Massachusetts to Jonathan Whipple (c. 1752-1839) of Mendon on December 25, 1776. They lived in Uxton and had several children. Mary died in 1812.

Place of Origin

Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, New England, United States, North America



Mark or Signature or Inscription or Label

1. Label; on backing paper; "55.137 a" (graphite)
2. Label; tied onto frame hook; "55.137 ab / Mass Hall" (graphite)
3. Label; reverse, frame; "55.137 b" (red paint)


Silk; Metallic thread


Embroidered, Woven (plain)

Construction Description


Dimensions (inches)

7.5 (L) , 12.5 (W)

Dimensions (centimeters)

19.05 (L) , 31.75 (W)

Measurement Notes

Dimensions refer to area of needlework visible within frame.

Object Description

Web - 01/20/2016

This is a silk needlework picture worked with silk and metallic threads in 1773 by Mary Jennison of Salem, Massachusetts. Mary's handwritten family history was glued to the outside of the backboard, stating that she worked her needlework picture while in attendance at a boarding school in Salem, Massachusetts. Mary had an aunt who lived in Salem, and it was likely that Mary lived with her so that she could attend school there. The inside of the backboard is inscribed "& two for / this / S Blyth" suggesting that Samuel Blythe, who owned and operated a girl's school with his wife in Salem, may have framed Mary's picture. The picture is typical of other examples from Salem, Massachusetts. The long, crude, crinkly silk stitches are uncouched and worked on the diagonal over a black silk ground. This style, popular in Essex County from about the 1740's to the 1770's, was taught by several different teachers in the area during this time period.

Bibliography and Bibliographic Notes

[Book] Swan, Susan Burrows. 1977 Plain & Fancy: American Women and Their Needlework, 1700-1850.
Published: p. 64, 65, fig. 31
[Book] Swan, Susan Burrows. 1995 Plain and Fancy: American Women and their Needlework, 1650-1850.
Published: p. 66, fig. 33
[Book] Ring, Betty. 1993 Girlhood Embroidery: American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework 1650-1850. I.
Published: p. 104, fig. 112