The Queen of Sheba Admiring the Wisdom of Solomon

Canvas work, now called needlepoint, was also taught in schools or learned at home. Mary comes from a Connecticut family that has many surviving pieces of needlework, indicating she may have stitched this piece at home with help from a relative.
This canvas work picture includes five houses and thirty-eight people, using wool and metallic embroidery threads. On the bottom is the inscription, "THE QUEEN OF SHEBA ADMIRING THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON." Solomon and Sheba are centered under a canopied tent decorated with metal threads. At the center along the top edge is the inscription "MARY WILLIAMS 1744," the name worked in metal thread. Although the primary subject is biblical, all the figures are dressed in 18th-century clothing. All of the houses have shingled roofs, pediment windows, and doors on their lower stories.
The biblical story is found in I Kings 10. The Queen of Sheba heard that Solomon, King of Israel, was rich, wise, and religious. She came to Jerusalem to test him with some very hard questions. King Solomon answered all her questions and when she saw his palace and his food, etc. she said “not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.” I Kings 10:7.
Mary Williams was born to Rev. Solomon and Mary Porter Williams on February 11, 1733, in Lebanon, Connecticut. She married Richard Salter on June 17, 1767, as his second wife. They had three children, Abigail, who died May 31, 1768, age 3 days; a second daughter, also named Abigail, who died May 18, 1770, age 1 mo.; and Elizabeth, who died July 21, 1771, age 3 wks. Mary died November 16, 1793, in Mansfield, Connecticut.
Currently not on view
Object Name
canvas work
date made
Williams, Mary
Physical Description
wool (thread material)
metal (thread material)
linen (ground material)
overall: 17 1/4 in x 21 1/2 in; 43.815 cm x 54.61 cm
place made
United States: Connecticut
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
Ring, Betty. Girlhood Embroidery, American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework
Additional Media

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