Peebbles and Stevenson 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. It included an assortment of plinth, urn, mourners, and trees in a garden setting.
This oval embroidered mourning picture on a rectangular silk ground, was created in memory of Mrs. Abigail Peebbles and Margaret Stevenson. It shows an urn on a plinth, with angel face and wings on each side of the urn and the inscription: “NOT / LOST BUT / GONE / BEFORE.” The inscription on the plinth is “To the memory / of / Abigail Peebbles / obit Feby 9t 1798 AE 26 / and / Margaret Stevenson / Obit July 24th 1797 AE 3." To the left of the urn is a large weeping willow tree whose top bends over and behind the urn. To the right of the urn is a female figure with a sunburst on the bodice of her flowing gown. The ground fabric is ivory silk satin, backed with fine linen. The stitches are encroaching satin, daisy loop, outline, straight, back, and long and short.
This embroidery includes the typical objects found in mourning embroideries: angels, weeping willow trees, and an urn on a plinth. The female figure may represent virtue and the sun on her bosom would indicate that virtue is cherished by the “natural dictates of conscience” according to Thomas Sheraton’s Cabinet Dictionary, 1803.
Meisa (Mary) Stevenson was born July 26, 1784, and on June 20, 1808, she married Kimball Washburn (1784-1825). Mary died October 5, 1829. Abigail and Margaret were probably Meisa Stevenson’s sisters and the embroidery was worked in Maine. The piece descended through the family of George Kneeland Washburn, one of their eight children.
Currently not on view
Object Name
embroidery, mourning
Stevenson, Meisa (Mary)
Physical Description
silk (ground material)
linen (ground material)
silk (thread material)
overall: 11 1/2 in x 9 in; 29.21 cm x 22.86 cm
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 Miss Helen Newcomb & Miss Elizabeth Newcomb
Additional Media

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