Otis House

“Fishing Lady” Needlework Picture

Romanticized pastoral scenes were popular in the eighteenth century. This oversized needlework picture is the largest of about seventeen known scenes called “fishing lady” pictures, all of which were probably made in Boston, Massachusetts, around 1750. In addition to the central figure with her fishing pole, they depict men and women, animals, and insects in a lush green landscape. The images of a young woman waiting for a catch and couples in fertile surroundings suggest youthful fantasies about courtship and love. Although its maker is unknown, this picture descended in the Lowell family and hung at the author James Russell Lowell’s house, “Elmwood,” in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the nineteenth century.

Unknown maker
Boston, Massachusetts, 1747-1750
Wool, silk, beads, linen