This silk embroidered picture of Liberty is based on Edward Savage’s engraving of the same subject after his own life-size painting of 1793. The engraving Liberty. In the form of the Goddess of Youth, giving Support to the Bald Eagle was published June 11, 1796, in Philadelphia, and widely distributed and copied in various media including watercolor on paper, oil on velvet, oil on canvas, reverse painting on glass, and painted and embroidered images such as this example. The drawing and painted details of this needlework picture are attributed to the artist Samuel Folwell, whose wife Ann Elizabeth ran a school for girls in Philadelphia. After Folwell sketched the design on the silk, the picture is believed to have been embroidered by Margaretta Ray Smith, a student at the Folwell school. Margaretta Ray Smith later married Robert Locke and before 1836 moved to Fayette County, Tennessee. A second needlework picture by Margaretta depicting the birth of Christ has also descended in the family.
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- Titles Liberty Giving Sustenance to the Eagle (Proper)
- Artist Attributed to, Margaretta Ray Smith Locke, American, 1800 - 1884@School of Samuel Folwell, American, 1764 - 1813@After an engraving (1796) by, Edward Savage, American, 1761 - 1817
- Medium silk, chenille, metallic thread, beads, and watercolor on silk in a painted and molded wood frame
- Dimensions frame: 35 × 25 1/2 in. (88.9 × 64.8 cm)
- Credit Line Gift of Mr. and Mrs. E. Mabry Rogers, Mr. and Mrs. J. Robert Fleenor, in honor of Hugh Allen Locke, Sr., father of Mrs. Margaret Locke Fleenor, 1984.43
- Work Type embroidery
- Classification Needlework
- Signature Unsigned
- Marks None
- Inscription On a banner at Liberty's foot, IN ROY M
- Provenance Margaretta Ray Smith Locke (1800-1884; married Robert Locke, Sr., born Ireland 1798, died Tennessee 1879), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and LaGrange, Tennessee; by descent to their son Robert Locke, Jr. (1838-1904), LaGrange, Tennessee; by descent to his daughter Susie Letitia Locke (1874-1956), Birmingham, Alabama; by descent to her niece Margaret Allen Locke Fleenor (born 1934; married J. Robert Fleenor), Birmingham, Alabama; by gift to the Birmingham Museum of Art in 1984