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Stephen & Carol Huber: 17th - 19th Century Needlework

Chandler Family needlework picture 1758 from Huber

Chandler Family Needlework Picture with yellow house dated 1758

Two remarkable canvas-work pictures have descended in the Chandler family of Worcester, Massachusetts and Woodstock, Connecticut (at the time Woodstock was part of Worcester County). Worked by one or two of the daughters of John Chandler, Jr., this one depicts an intriguing scene of two courting couples engaged in conversation, one holding hands, the other about to be smitten with cupid's arrow. Servants carry food and beverage and two gentlemen sit reading, all in front of a center-chimney house with the date 1758 above the doorway.

The other picture depicts a maiden seated in a landscape filled with frolicking dogs, a swan and a variety of disproportionate flowers while a youth plays a pipe and another lounges alongside.

Both pictures have wonderful costume detail and one illustrates household furnishings. It is unknown where these pieces were made, they do not resemble the usual Boston canvas-works taken from print sources and they are somewhat reminiscent of earlier Norwich pictures, or they may have been made locally. Woodstock was prosperous and progressive and ranked among the foremost towns of the county with well-patronized schools that included pupils from the best families in the area.

John Chandler, Jr. (1693-1762) and his wife Hannah Gardiner (1699-1739) were parents to ten children, seven of whom were daughters. In 1758, Lucretia (1730-1768) would have been 28 and unmarried (she married John Murray in 1761), and Katharine (1735-1791) was possibly unmarried in 1758 but engaged to her future husband, Levi Willard. They are the likely stitchers of these works. The 'conversation group' may be depicting the two sisters with Lucretia in blue and husband-to-be Levi (a painting of him shows him to be a portly man) being targeted by cupid. Katherine attended a school in Boston where she made a Chandler coat of arms c.1750.

Wool and silk on linen; 15" x 23" sight size.


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