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Memorial Picture
Embroiderer:Attributed to Sylvia Punderson , American, 1769 - 1826
Embroidery; silk thread and chenille yarn, pencil, on a plain-woven silk ground; plain-woven cotton
Primary Dimensions (height x width): 21 1/2 x 27in. (54.6 x 68.6cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Helen J. Chandlee Ergood
Gallery Copy: Sylvia Punderson Morgan’s headless memorial picture provides a fascinating view of the creative process. Two large willow trees frame an imposing monument surrounded by a family group of no less than eleven figures. This was an ambitious number rarely equaled in surviving memorial pictures. Heads and hands were outlined lightly in pencil, but never filled in, leaving the faces to the viewer’s imagination. Inscriptions are also absent from the monument’s double tablet. Evidently not displayed in the period, Sylvia’s picture preserves strikingly strong colors, especially rarely seen spring greens and bright blues.
Description: Unfinished memorial picture worked in black, light medium and dark blue, dark and medium brown, light and medium green, and white silk thread, light brown chenille yarn, and pencil on a plain-woven white silk ground, using satin stitch and other stitches. The picture shows a memorial in the center, consisting of a large urn atop a tall square base. The front of the base is divided into two rectangular sections; these are left blank. The memorial is surrounded by eleven figures, six female and five male, all wearing black. Their faces are outlined in pencil, but are not painted in. This scene is flanked by two large willow trees. The ground is constructed of two pieces of silk that are sewn together across the center. The top half of the ground is a rectangular piece of plain-woven silk with a selvedge at the bottom edge. The lower half of the ground is made of plain-woven silk and plain-woven cotton that overlap across a semi-circular area of the ground. The lower portion of the ground, corresponding to the picture's foreground, consists entirely of the plain-woven cotton. The cotton has two pink and brown stripes at the lower edge. Stitches: The primary stitch on the memorial picture is a satin stitch; it also includes encroaching satin, long and short, french knot, and couching. The black outfits for the mourners are embroidered with untwisted silk thread. Condition: The dye on the silk thread that makes the trees and the black costumes have migrated to the ground. The area where the unfinished heads would be has some light pink staining.
Maker Note: Sylvia Punderson (b. 1769) was the sixth child of Ebenezer Punderson (1735-1809) and Prudence Geer Punderson (1735-1822).
Object Number: 1964.40.2
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