Wrought by Hannah Mirriam
American, ca. 1813
Needlepoint on silk, painted silk background. In the likeness of Edward Savage’s Liberty. In the form of the Goddess of Youth; giving Support to the Bald Eagle
Condition: Excellent condition, one minor area of loss.
Transcribed on back of frame: Done by Hannah Merriam (born Dec. 5, 1797) in her sixteenth year.
An unusually large and beautifully wrought silk needlework picture, based on the 1796 Philadelphia engraving by Edward Savage Liberty in the form of the Goddess of Youth; giving Support to the Bald Eagle. Hannah later married Joseph Fischer, master mate of the USS Constitution during the war of 1812.
Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries regularly invented and adopted images as a visual shorthand to express their political beliefs. This piece contains many such symbols. The depiction of America as Lady Liberty was one such visual representation that emerged during the time of the early republic. The choice to depict Lady Liberty as a young woman signified the youth of the nation and in some cases, the anxiety of the future of an untried democracy was likened to an impetuous youth. In outstretching her arm with a cup toward the eagle to the left, Liberty is offering nourishment to the republic, symbolized by the eagle. Behind her, the clouds of war are spewing lightning to drive the British fleet from Boston Harbor, while simultaneously the United States flag is emerging from the war clouds, topped with a Phrygian cap. A widely known representation of freedom and the pursuit of liberty.
During the 18th century, a proliferation of training institutes for women provided unprecedented opportunity in academic curriculum, and training in areas that were thought to be accomplishments that exemplified refinement and utility. Recreating works of art with heavy use of patriotic iconography in needlework was thought to help reinforce the qualities that young women were taught that would instill republican values in them as adults that would ensure that the future of the republic would be protected and showcase their useful feminine skills.
Dimensions: 22" h x 10 1/2" w. 24 1/4" h x 21 3/4" w framed
Item ID: WoA-NDWK 018