American Boston, Canvas-work picture, mid 18th century, Linen plain weave with wool and silk smbroidery tent stitch; 60.3 cm (23 13/16 inches) (length), Gift of Mrs. Jesse H. Metcalf 23.075
The Museum’s canvas-work picture belongs to a group of related mid-eighteenth century needlework objects depicting fashionably dressed figures in pastoral settings. These pieces, most originating in Boston, are commonly referred to as the “fishing lady” pictures. Although an elegant woman fishing beside a brook (a common courting pastime of the period) appears in only eleven of the more than sixty such needlework pieces known, the name has come to refer to all of them. RISD’s example, like many of the others, draws upon various sources. The couple at the card table derives from a painting by Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743), later engraved by N. Larmessin. Another scene was borrowed from Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The needleworker relied upon traditional pattern books for depictions of the numerous animal and plant forms included in this piece.