Parker and Bullard Memorial

After a young lady learned to embroider a sampler, she might attend a female academy to make a silk embroidered picture. This was a more challenging technique that became popular in the early 1800s. Subjects included classical, biblical, and historical scenes, as well as mourning pictures. The death of George Washington gave impetus to this new fad of the mourning picture, which came to include an assortment of plinth, urn, mourners, and trees in a garden setting.
This mourning picture was expertly embroidered by Mary Parker. In the center is a plinth with an urn on top. The inscription reads: "Sacred / To / The Memory of / Mrs. Hannah Parker. Obt / April 14th 1813. Aged 50. / Mrs. Sarah Bullard. Obt. / July 13th 1813. Aged 27."
To the right side of the plinth is a weeping woman, leaning with her right elbow on the plinth. She is dressed in a gown of the period, and a braid encircles her softly curled hair. Two large willow trees overhang the plinth and the woman, and dominate the picture. The ground fabric is silk satin. The stitches are French knots, long and short, encroaching satin, split, lazy daisy, and chain.
This embroidery includes the typical objects found in mourning embroideries: a garden, weeping willow trees, a mourning woman, and an urn on a plinth. The willow tree is a symbol of mourning and sorrow, as well as a tree that drains the ground of water, thereby keeping the site dry.
Hannah Gilson was born May 26, 1764, to Samuel and Elizabeth Shed Gilson in Pepperell, MA. She married Lemuel Parker November 13, 1783, and died April 13, 1813. Daughter Sarah (Sally) Parker, born 1786, married John Bullard in 1808 in Pepperell, Massachusetts. Daughter Mary (Polly) Parker was born March 18, 1792.
Currently not on view
Object Name
silk picture
Parker, Mary
Physical Description
silk (ground material)
overall: 17 3/4 in x 17 in; 45.085 cm x 43.18 cm
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Pepperell
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Embroidered Pictures
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Embroidered Pictures
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Arthur M. Greenwood
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