Otis House

Classical Scene

Elizabeth Ann Lyon, the schoolgirl who created the work pictured
here, was an only child born in 1806 to Theophilus Lyon and Elizabeth
Belcher. The Lyons belonged to Old South Church in Boston and owned a home on Summer Street. They had moved into Boston society just before Elizabeth’s birth and must have planned her education
to befit their new station.

This is one of two watercolors created by Elizabeth Lyon in the Historic New England collection on view at Otis House and features a classical
landscape. While neither painting is signed, “Miss EA Lyon” is inscribed on their backboards.

The watercolors, completed when she
was in her teens, are typical of the art
young ladies produced as part of their
education. By the early nineteenth century, becoming a refined New England
woman meant learning to sew, paint,
dance, speak French, and even read a
globe, in addition to reading and writing. To learn these skills, young ladies
attended academies and seminaries.

Elizabeth Ann Lyon (1806-1834), maker
Boston, Massachusetts, before 1825