Margaret McKay

Description
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.
This pastoral scene shows a young man seated under a tree with a horn slung over his shoulder, and holding a piece of bread (?). Before him stands a young woman carrying a sack, at which a dog is sniffing. The oval scene is surrounded by a single line of stem stitch, 1/4" beyond the picture. The border is embroidered with an undulating ribbon tied in a bow at the lower edge and entwined with sprays of roses, lilies, morning glories, carnations, daisies, and other flowers. At the lower edge of the oval embroidery, printed in ink, is the inscription: "MARGARET McKAY M. E. & A. SKETCHLEY's BOARDING SCHOOL HAERLEM LANE." The picture is worked on a twill-weave ivory silk ground and the stitches used are satin, long and short, stem, straight, chain, and French knot.
The Sketchley’s school continued at Haerlem Lane in New York City from 1806 until 1809. The name “M. E. & A. Sketchley” and the address or town, were usually worked on the silk embroideries of their students. The Sketchleys also taught in North Carolina and Virginia. The embroideries include elegant scenes in the neoclassical taste, but lack any distinct characteristics that would help identify unsigned pieces.
Margaret McKay is probably the sister of Capt. George Knox McKay (1791-1814). Her embroidery descended in his family until it was given to the National Museum of American History.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
picture
silk, embroidery
date made
1806-1809
maker
McKay, Margaret
Physical Description
silk (ground material)
wood (frame material)
silk (embroidery threads material)
water color (painting material)
ink (inscription material)
Measurements
overall: 26 in x 22 in; 66.04 cm x 55.88 cm
place made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
1987.0785.01
catalog number
1987.0785.01
accession number
1987.0785
subject
Textiles
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 Mrs. Frances C. Land
referenced
Ring, Betty. Girlhood Embroidery, American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.