DECORATIVE ARTS, JEWELRY, CERAMICS, GLASS, TEXTILES

PUBLISHER
MFA Publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

BOOK FORMAT
Clth, 8 x 9.5 in. / 174 pgs / 80 color.

PUBLISHING STATUS
Pub Date
Out of print

DISTRIBUTION
D.A.P. Exclusive
Catalog: SPRING 2012 p. 53   

PRODUCT DETAILS
ISBN 9780878467785 TRADE
List Price: $40.00 CDN $54.00 GBP £35.00

AVAILABILITY
Not available

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MFA PUBLICATIONS, MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON

Women's Work: Embroidery in Colonial Boston

Text by Pamela A. Parmal.

Women's Work: Embroidery in Colonial BostonCharming us with their whimsy and conjuring a warm domesticity, embroideries from the colonial era also astonish us with the high prices they bring at art auctions. A single work could take years to make, its materials could come from the other side of the world and its imagery could reflect its makerís deepest beliefs and her familyís highest aspirations. Colonial women kept these accomplished works with them throughout their lives, proudly displayed them in their homes, and passed them down as family heirlooms. Embroidery in Colonial Boston tells the stories of six women and how needlework shaped their lives in the coloniesí most important port city. From decidedly domestic origins, their embroideries soon became an economic force that promoted the silk trade and allowed entrepreneurial women and men to profit from selling supplies, drawing patterns and teaching young girls interested in this mode of expression. At once a historical overview, group biography and richly illustrated art book, this publication gives long deserved attention to a unique facet of American visual culture and womenís history.

Featured image, a 1718 sampler by Elizabeth Russell (American, born in Boston, about 1710), is reproduced from Women's Work: Embroidery in Colonial Boston. "This is the earliest known Boston sampler from the eighteenth century. The squirrels at the bottom were a common motif in domestic embroideries such as bed hangings and chair seats."

Women's Work: Embroidery in Colonial Boston

STATUS: Out of print | 00/00/00

For assistance locating a copy, please see our list of recommended out of print specialists

FROM THE BOOK
"As Boston developed into the most important port in colonial America, the town's successful merchants, tradesmen, and craftsmen shared a desire for upward social mobility which their newfound wealth, proper education for their children, and a genteel lifestyle could help their families attain. Parents in ever greater numbers and from a wider range of social classes sent their young daughters to classes in which they learned manners, needlework, and dancing. To meet this growing demand, new schools opened in Boston and a greater number of women began to teach classes in embroidery, japanning, painting on glass, music, and even French.
Mary Turfrey was the first woman to advertise teaching in the Boston newspapers in 1706. By 1716, four more girls' finishing schools had opened in the city, and between 1716 and 1740, nine new teachers chose to advertise in the papers. The increasing interest on the part of middle-class parents to educate their children provided women with the opportunity to earn money for their households. Women advertised offering to teach embroidery, reading, writing, pastry making, and other schoolgirl arts as well as to board girls and to sell supplies. The knowledge of the embroidery arts thus not only allowed women to properly manage their households, but also to participate in the growing prosperity of the city and earn money for themselves and their family. One of the more well-studied teachers among them is Susannah Hiller Condy."

óPamela A. Parmal, excerpted from the chapter "Economic Opportunity: Susannah Hiller Condy," published in Women's Work: Embroidery in Colonial Boston.

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