School Girl Art, Textiles, Theorems, Painted Furniture, etc.

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The Great Seal of California

This picture, illustrating the ferry boat Eureka from San Francisco, a side-wheel paddle boat, became the central image of the seal of the state of California. It is executed in silk thread and watercolor on silk and was made for the American market in Japan. Examples of many other (or all) states were also made. Draped and swaged American flags surround the central image and sewn identification identifies its subject.
21 x 17 1/2 inches sight and 27 1/4 x 23 inches framed. In fine condition and in a mahogany frame with a gilded liner. Circa 1890.


Drawings from an extraordinary decorated copy book by Dolle Green of Weare, New Hampshire, circa 1794.

The images are decorated in the style of the illuminated manuscript: capital letters are exaggerated in size and their form transformed into figural designs executed in polychrome. These letters are drawn as human figures, including what is most probably a self portrait of the artist on the title image, as well as others decorated with flowers, strange animals, birds and butterflies, and a snake. Page subjects are those of a student: coins, money, addition, subtractions, time, apothecaric, and others. Additional calligraphic flourishes decorate the pages.

Twelve of these drawings are framed, and they are accompanied by their original leather copy book which has the artist's name on its cover and on a later receipt bearing the address of its maker, Weare, New Hampshire, included within it. The leather covers are lined with an Exeter, New Hampshire newspaper dated 1794.

Dolle Green was born in Weare, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire on October 8, 1770. She was the youngest of ten children of Isaiah Green of Kensington, New Hampshire and Mary Purington of Amesbury, Massachusett s. Dolle never married and lived at the end of her life in Weare with Thomas and Mary Breed and their children. She died on May 25, 1853 at age 83.

#2254, 2187

"Written by William Harrison Green in, Litchfield jail, State of Connecticut": Two watercolors by this artist.

The Reverend Wm. Green, originally from Centerville, New York, abandoned his wife there and went to Cornwall, CT. He was an itinerant Methodist minister, and there he met and married a young widow with property. He also worked for P.T. Barnum when he ran for Congress and in a general store for his second wife's brother. His second wife died under suspicious circumstances, and after three trials Green was convicted of her murder and sentenced to the state prison for life and died there.

While there, Mr. Green went into an ornamental painting and illuminating business, and his work is beautifully decorative- highly colorful and quite charming. In addition to this piece, there is a similar example in the collection of the Litchfield Historical Society.

Both works are drawn in red, blue and black ink (now brown) and show two women in one placed between over-sized flowered branches. Their costumes are made up of banks of lines, dots and zig-zags, a totally abstract view of fabric pattern and cloth folds.' The other work portrays one female figure, a large compass star, and decorative elements seen in other known examples of his work.
Sight size is 12 inches high and 8 inches wide. Framed in similar period striped, grain painted frames, they each measure 15 x 10 3/4 inches. One example is dated 1868.


"Queen Blanche Releasing the Captives," a painting in watercolor on silk with embroidered gold decoration, by Eliza Bellows of Walpole, New Hampshire, circa 1817.

The works of two other girls from Walpole were made at Misses Pattens' School in Hartford, Connecticut in the first decades of the nineteenth century. One of those students was Eliza's sister Louisa. Louisa married William G. Field in 1816, and he was the preceptor of the Walpole Academy in 1825. Stylistically Eliza's work is done in the manner of the Misses Pattens' School, although it is possible that she was a pupil of her older sister, who may have taught painting and needlework, in Walpole.

Both for its choice of subject matter and for the quality of its workmanship, this is a particulary wonderful example of this schoolgirl art form. Its subject, Queen Blanche of Castile (1188-1252), became the queen consort of France as the wife of Louis VIII, and she was twice regent for her son Louis IX during his reign. She is remembered and held in esteem as an example of strong ethical character for, among other actions, the scene portrayed in this work. It was described by Margaret Labarge in her book "A Medieval Miscellany", as following Blanche's presiding over a dispute in the king's court, in a time of increasing antisemitism in France, during which she promised Rabbi Rehiel, who spoke for the Jews of Paris, that he and his goods were safely under her protection. In the painting by Eliza, Blanche oversees the release of the captive Jews.

The royal guards wear costumes embroided in gold thread and sequins. Also the perimenter of the scenic panel is embroidered in silver thread. The rest of the picture is superbly painted in watercolor on silk and framed behind an eglomise glass inscribed with the name of the scene and the name of its artist and her age. The surrounding floral garland with intwined cornucopia at its base, the town painted to the right in the scene background, and the placement of the foreground building and trees on either side of the central figures, mirror compositional devices seen in Pattens' School work.

Sight dimensions are 25 1/2 x 25 1/2, and it original gilded frame with rope twist decoration is 29 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches.


A Gift to his Mother

This box with floral decoration painted on its sliding lid top is made entirely of highly figured tiger maple and is lined with bright blue paper.

In 1819 Henry, then 22 or 23 years old and the ninth child of Amos and Helen Whittemore, gave this gift to his mother, and its presentation is recorded in pencil on the inside surface of the lid.

The box is finely dovetailed, as would be expected of urban work, and the family lived in the Arlington/Cambridge area outside of Boston. The blue interior was seen on drawer interiors in the Boston area at this time, and the box shape was often used there. 8 x 5 inch top and 1 1/2 inch height. The piece retains its original thin shellac surface.


A superb Chester County, Pennsylvania needlework picture, signed Mary Ann Sharpless and dated 1824, worked in silk on linen and with a ribbon border.

Like other examples of samplers by students of East Goshen schoolmistress Elizabeth Passmore, whose name appears on this piece, the composition is centered by a poetic passage entitled "Extract" above which Mary Ann stitched the names of the members of her family. A centrally placed willow tree surmounts a blue field filled with grazing sheep, a large spotted rabbit, and flowers, all within a meandering floral-vine border.

Mary Ann was born on February 10, 1809 and died on December 11, 1869, one of nine children of Jesse Sharpless and Ann Harvey.

The ribbon border with corner rosettes entirely surrounds the work and is in fine condition. The piece is conservation mounted on linen and set back from the glass within a modern frame.

Related examples made by students of Passmore can be found in "Girlhood Embroidery" by Betty Ring, p. 401; "A Gallery of American Samplers: The Theodore Kapnek Collection" by Glee Krueger, p. 56: and "The Joan Stephens Collection: Important Samplers and Pictorial Needlework", Sotheby's January 19, 1997, number 2098.

Sight dimensions are 26 1/4 inches wide and 23 inches high, and framed dimensions are 29 1/4 inches wide and 26 inches high.


A rare family group of six folk art watercolor, ink, and pencil on paper portraits from the Wright-Gleason family of Concord, Massusetts.

These wonderfully detailed portraits by an unidentified artist are contained within painted ovals and are vibrantly colored, have great charm and naivete, and are highly decorative in aspect with simplified drawing technique. 

The family were the owners of the Wright tavern in Concord, MA, the place where the Minutemen met.

Painted circa 1810-1815. In reproduction frames in the style of the period and conservation mounted floating above a rag mat. Ovals vary between 3 and 4 inches in diameter and 4 to 4 1/4 inches in height. They are all framed to 6 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches.



A fine and rare example of an embroidered idigo and ivory colored wool bed cover from the early nineteenth century. The floral and flower/sunburst designs echo the motifs of earlier bed rugs, while at the same time showing the organization and pattern variations of an album quilt. The ground is woven with a grid-like pattern of 64 squares in two tones of ivory, and the squares are themselves placed within emboidered circles. The designs vary between squares but all maintain an abstracted flower motif. Its heavy original fringe borders the piece on three sides, and the artist's initials EMS adorn the upper or head edge of the blanket.
Mounted on a neutral fabric gound over a folding stretcher. 84 1/2 inches wide by 88 1/2 inches high.
Descended in the family which is from Middletown Springs, Vermont.


The Schoolgirl Copy Books of Zilpha Shepard (1827-1894)

In 1840 thirteen year old Zilpha Shepard from Canton, Massachusetts created a copy book containing twelve painted illustrations and dozens of highly romanticized poems that are fairly typical of the work of her generation's female students, but also prophetic of the talent that would later allow her to become a professional artist. Its frontispiece, a complex floral still life, is followed by a brief poem that refers to the joy she finds in the natural world and in portraying it in her art. 

Four years later she made another book. This not only has her name and the year but specifically states, "Painted by Zilpha Shepard 1844". It contains twelve remarkable watercolors and numerous unfinished pencil and pen and ink drawings.

In the early nineteenth century artists in Canton, China made books of paintings on pith paper for export. Sets of these, each in brilliant color and minutely detailed, and each with a particular subject category- flowers, court ladies, fish and vegetables, landscapes- could be ordered. Zilpha's watercolors in her 1844 book are clearly based on those found in a set of these books.

Zilpha never married and lived with her parents and then her widowed mother. Zilpha, the prodigiously talented girl who made these beautiful watercolors almost four decades earlier, chose art as her life's work. She is listed in the 1880 United States Federal Census, still living in Canton, Massachusetts, as an "Oil, Water (Color) and Crayon Painter".



A beautifully detailed and symbol-filled title page for a school girl's album, drawn by a professional ornamental painter,

Kinsley C. Gladding (1802-1866).

The piece is dated 1826 and inscribed as from Providence, Rhode Island.
Portrayed is a school girl in classical garb, standing beneath a domed temple, and holding a liberty pole and a cornucopia, from which she spills the fruits of knowledge. A flag-draped eagle with outstretched wings surmounts the dome. Similar symbols appear in schoolgirl samplers and embroideries of the period in RI, particularly the pillars and arches of the temple drawn here.
Gladdiing was Boston trained, and from 1824-1858 he was listed in the Providence city directories as a landscape, sign, or ornamental painter, as well as a grocer and a jeweler.


A child's apron emboidered in wool on cotton with flowering vine decoration and a blue scalloped edge. Made circa 1830. Found in Maine. Now mounted on a dark natural streched linen to dimensions of 25 1/4 x 26 1/4 inches.