“The Death of Sylvia’s Stag”
Silk on Silk Pictorial Needlework
Saunders and Beach Academy
Boston Circa 1815
15 1/2 X 16 1/2 inches
Frame 25 X 24 inches
Provenance: A label on the back of the frame states, “Property of Eliza J. Womersly, Bequethed to Mary E. Norcross, Nov., 1925.” Stephen and Carol Huber, Connecticut; Private Collection, Connecticut.
Reference: For a full discussion and history of the Saunders and Beach Academy please see Betty Ring, Girlhood Embroidery, Volume I, pages 94-99.
The scene: The needlework depicts a scene from book 7, verses 483–499, of Virgil‘s epic poem the Aeneid. Aeneas‘s son Ascanius shoots a stag that is the house-reared pet of Silvia, daughter of “Tyrrheus, chief ranger to the Latian king” (John Dryden‘s translation), provoking a war with Latium for the future site of Rome. Virgil’s account, over 16 lines, spends most of them describing the closeness of the relationship between Sylvia and the stag.