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19th-century Peterborough artist featured in Concord exhibit

  • Peterborough resident Margaret T. Mitchell’s needlework reproduction of Edward Savage’s “The Landing of Christopher Columbus.”

    Peterborough resident Margaret T. Mitchell’s needlework reproduction of Edward Savage’s “The Landing of Christopher Columbus.”

  • “Garden Lilly,” watercolor circa 1800, by Peterborough resident Margaret T. Mitchell.

    “Garden Lilly,” watercolor circa 1800, by Peterborough resident Margaret T. Mitchell.

  • Peterborough resident Margaret T. Mitchell’s needlework reproduction of Edward Savage’s “The Landing of Christopher Columbus.”
  • “Garden Lilly,” watercolor circa 1800, by Peterborough resident Margaret T. Mitchell.

March is National Women’s History Month, and the N.H. Historical Society’s newest exhibition recognizes and celebrates women artists. The exhibition “Home, School, and Studio: Women Artists and New Hampshire” features paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture created by women more than a century from the early 1800s through the mid-1900s.

Some of the earliest works on display are early 19th-century watercolor drawings and needlework pictures by young women like Margaret T. Mitchell (1784-1867) of Peterborough, who received useful educations in local schools and academies, training them for motherhood and life.

According to the society’s website, Mitchell was one of hundreds of young women who attended Mrs. Susanna Rowson’s Academy in Boston during the early 19th century. Mitchell learned manners and morals as well as reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, music, dancing, needlework, painting and drawing. This education prepared her for adulthood and motherhood in the new republic.

Mitchell chose a popular subject when she copied David Edwin’s 1800 engraving after Edward Savage’s painting, “The Landing of Christopher Columbus,” in making her needlework picture done with silk and watercolor on paper sometime between 1800 and 1809. The piece was gifted to the society by Mattie Estella Bean Gilchrist, in memory of Harry Wilbur Gilchrist.

By the mid-19th century women began to play an important role in the development of American art and, after the Civil War, ambitious young women began to gradually take a more prominent role in the art world exhibiting paintings at venues such as the Boston Art Club and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The exhibition is on view at the N.H. Historical Society’s museum now through Dec. 31. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $5.50 for adults; $4.50 for seniors; $3 for children 6 to 18, with a family maximum of $17. Children under 6 and members of the Society are admitted free.

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