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Berlin Work Picture

Hazelton, Ann
Date Made:
Circa 1860
wool on canvas
Accession Number:
Large wool on canvas Berlin Work picture of a hawk-like raptor perched on a branch. The bird has a white head and body (with specks of brown), brown wings and tail, and a black beak. The bird is surrounded by flowers and greenery including morning glories (blue behind the hawk and red below it), roses, lillies and crysanthemums. Greenery is mixed in and includes oak leaves and English ivy among other unidentified leaves.

The maker of this piece, Ann (born Doceann) Hazelton (1843- 1915) of Greene County, North Carolina, was the daughter of Christopher Hazelton (1818-1845) and Elizabeth Cahoon Hazelton (1815-1850). After her parents died, she and her brother Elias (1845-1920) became wards of their uncle, Benjamin Hazelton. Anne began attending the Salem Girls’ Boarding School in 1855 where she stayed until 1861. Circa 1863 she became the third wife of William Coward. The couple resided in Greene County, North Carolina, where William is listed as a farmer in the 1870 census. The couple raised eight children including William’s son from his second marriage. At the time of her death, Anne Hazelton Coward lived in Mosely Township in Lenoir County, North Carolina.

BERLIN WORK: Berlin work developed in Germany in the early 19th century. Printed patterns for brightly colored wools, or “worsteds”, were widely distributed and commercially available by the 1820’s. Patterns were printed on “point”, or graph, paper with colored blocks corresponding to squares on the canvas. The stitcher had only to follow the graph and count lines, squares, and stitches to create colorful elaborate designs. The most popular patterns included wreaths, bouquets of flowers, animals, patterns for shoes, and pictorials. The Old Salem Museums & Gardens collection includes a large number of patterns once beloninging to the school. Some of the patterns are quite small (just a few inches wide) while of others (such as the variety used for this piece) are quite large.

By the 1840’s, the rage for Berlin work had replaced the preference for elaborate silk on silk techniques that had been popular in Salem Girls’ Boarding School suggesting that teachers and students alike embraced this popular needlework technique to create a variety of personal accessories, household objects, and pictures.

In an April 11, 1836, letter from J.J. Whitney, a Boston merchant from whom Jacobson wished to purchase needlework supplies for the school, to Jacobson, Whitney writes, “A letter from you requesting us to inform you if we sell English and German worsteds &c &c is at hand. I do deel [sic] quite largely in many articles of the kind used in embroidery &c. The English worsted we always have a large quanitity on hand as well as the fine German or Ladies Zephyr….Rug and Marking canvass[sic]–patterns for worsted work &c we always have on hand and sell them at as low prices as any one as we import them ourselves….In Philadelphia animals and birds are almost the only designs used for working in worsteds, while with us it is impossible to see anything but flower pieces.” (A transcription of this letter is in the “Needlework” subject file of the Wachovia Area Residents card file in the Thomas A. Gray Library, Old Salem Museums & Gardens).

The Berlin Work picture probably descended as follows:

Doceann Hazelton Coward (1843-1915) Maker to her daughter
Gabrielle Gay Coward Dixon (1872-1951) to her daughter
Hannah Gay Dixon Williams (1903-1994) to her daughter
Hannah Gay Williams Whipple (1927-1998) to her son
Bruce Whipple (1958-2019) donor

Credit Line:
Bequest of Bruce Williams Whipple