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The importance of needlework pictures in the curricula of the many early nineteenth-century young lady’s academies is well known today (see B.84.7, B.54.15, B.86.13, B.70.51, B.70.53, B.70.52). Although the newspaper advertisements of various teachers and schools often mention instruction in painting as well as needlework, reading, and writing, scholarship of the schoolgirl watercolor is a relatively uncharted territory. This example, depicting a bucolic waterside scene, appears at first glance to be a charming naive painting. However, at least two other virtually identical watercolors are known, confirming that this is a schoolgirl work. The common source was a c. 1800 print after a painting by the English artist George Morland (1763–1804), titled The Angler’s Repast. Indeed, the original églomisé mat for this work bears the similar title, Fishing Party. It is most likely that the watercolor was completed by Susan Parker from Woburn, Massachusetts, a student at the Bradford Academy.
Related examples: One, thought to have been made at the Bradford Academy, is by Lydia Hosmer of Concord, Massachusetts, ca. 1812 (Wood 1996. p. 132, fig. 53.1. pl. 26). Another was in the Garbisch Collection (Garbisch 1966, p. 27. no. 11).
Book excerpt: David B. Warren, Michael K. Brown, Elizabeth Ann Coleman, and Emily Ballew Neff. American Decorative Arts and Paintings in the Bayou Bend Collection. Houston: Princeton Univ. Press, 1998.
Additional Makers: after a print of a painting by George Morland (English, 1763–1804)
Descriptive Medium: Watercolor on wove paper