Lot 843
  • 843

Rare and important canvaswork picture of a lady with tulips worked by Hannah Phillips, Boston, Massachusetts, Circa 1750

20,000 - 40,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • textiles
  • 15 1/8 in. by 11 5/8 in.
Worked in wool, silk all-over tent stitches on a canvas ground with a reclining lady seated; a large stem of tree tulips with a cross-hatched leaves at her right, bulrushes in the backround.


Descended in the Phillips family to C. Thomas Lloyd until c. 1971, and thence to his children (Mr. Lloyd inherited the Foxcroft Coney coat of arms in the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy).


In the original black painted ogee molded frame with gilded slip, hung from a wire ring.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Hannah Phillips worked the "Fishing Lady" canvaswork picture sold at Sotheby's, The Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little sale, Part II, October 22, 1994, sale 6612, lot 904. 

Based on a comparison of style and technique, it is likely that Hannah attended the same Boston school as Eunice Bourne (c. 1748) whose chimneypiece is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and is illustrated and discussed in Betty Ring, Girlhood Embroidery, Vol. I, p. 44, fig. 40. 

Judge Samuel Phillips, brother of Hannah Phillips was the founder of  Andover Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.  His sister, Hannah Phillips lived in the house their father built at 168 Osgood Street, North Andover, Massachusetts.  She is buried across the street in the cemetery which was attached to the meeting house in the adjacent field (meeting house is no longer standing).  The tomb stone refers to the fact that she died of an illness.  She was 23 years old. There are a total of three embroidery pieces created by Hannah Phillips that survived the centuries.  The other two are currently owned by a descendant of the family.

Betty Ring’s research stated the following:

Hannah Phillips was born in Andover, Massachusetts, on 20 January 1742.  She was the second of seven children born to Samuel Phillips (1715-1790) and Elizabeth Barnard (1718-1789).  She would be the first of two to reach adulthood.  Although his Harvard education prepared Samuel Phillips to follow his father in the ministry, he was eminently qualified to pursue a mercantile career.  His lasting monument is Phillips Academy, which he generously helped to finance.

As was customary with affluent New England families, Hannah was probably sent to Boston to study when she was about fourteen.  Hannah made two small canvas-work pieces, and the present example attests to the fact that, in keeping with her station, she had illustrious schoolmates, because similarity of style and one bold tulip plant reveal that she must have been taught by the unknown fishing-lady instructress.

Hannah’s three canvas-work pictures probably graced the walls of the Phillipses’ home before 1760.  Her needlework remained in place until the 1930’s.  In 1880 the so-called Phillips Manse was said to be the town’s richest residence “in ancient relics of ancestral grandeur”, including “tapestries wrought by hands long ago moldered to dust, the samplers in frames over the mantel, and the profiles of the first master and mistress of the manse in the hall.

Hannah’s sampler and needlework pictures, and also her work box, were loaned to an exhibition of needlework being organized by Nancy Graves Cabot for the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union in Boston in 1937.