From the eighteenth century through the early decades of the nineteenth, a girl from a family of means might strive to attain artistic “accomplishments” in addition to basic sewing skills. Sallie Hathaway was twelve years old when she stitched this appealing embroidery. In 1784 her family moved from Great Barrington, in western Massachusetts to the newly established town of Hudson, New York, where her father became the successful owner of a fleet of ships. It is not known where Sallie was educated during these formative years in Hudson or where she stitched this needlework. The best-known pictorial embroideries on black silk were worked at unidentified schools in Salem, Massachusetts, from the 1740s through the 1770s, and in Boston during the 1750s and 1760s. By framing the needlework on three sides with a Federal swag-and-tassel design, Hathaway has effectively created a stage setting for her needlework tableau, which unfolds in an intimate, personal progression.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Sallie Hathaway Needlework Picture," exhibition label for Jubilation|Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2012.