Silk Embroidered (Printwork) Memorial
Mary Balch School
Providence, Rhode Island dated 1812
This Balch School mourning picture was created with the then fashionable style of printwork, which was meant
to simulate copperplate engravings. First the basic design was painted onto the silk with a wash of ink or paint
in shades of grey to black. Using a delicate needle and a single strand of silk thread, fifteen-year-old Frances
skillfully delineated the design of the monument and figure with an outline stitch, and then proceeded to fill
in areas with tiny seed stitches in black, grey or cream silk thread, sometimes making hundreds of stitches per
square inch! The precisely-stitched lettering on the monument appears almost as printed text. The monument is
dedicated to two of the stitchers deceased male siblings.
Frances stitched the following inscription: Inscribed to the remains of / EDWARD WILLIAMS /who was born July
14th 1799, and died Jan. 16th 1805. in the 6th year of his age/ And / GODFREY WILLIAMS / who was born March 20th,
1804, and died April 5th 1811, aged 7 years.
Written in ink on the linen beneath the eglomize: "By Frances Williams, 1812."
A rectangular space has been left clean on the eglomize, so that the signature is visible today.
The frame is the original Dutch gesso ripple frame with a gilt liner and replacement eglomize glass mat.
The talented maker of this printwork memorial, fifteen-year-old Frances Williams (1797-1816), the daughter of Roger
Wolcott Williams (1764-1821) and Polly Scarborough (1775-1820), led a short life, and left no descendants, but
her family history is filled with amazing people, lots of inter-marriages, and stories about the founding of our
Illustrated in, Girlhood Embroidery by Betty Ring
Let Virtue Be a Guide to Thee by Betty Ring
American Needlework Treasures by Betty Ring
Exhibited in, Rhode Island Historical Society in Providence RI 1983
Museum of American Folk Art, New York 1990
Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas 1984
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1984
Ownership, Betty Ring
Stephen & Carol Huber
Dan & Marty Campanelli
Extensive research accompanies this needlework.
Silk thread and ink wash/paint on silk ground; 25" x 27" with original frame.
STEPHEN & CAROL HUBER
View Other Silk Embroidered Memorials