View of Boston Common

about 1750
Hannah Otis (1732–1801)

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


61.59 x 133.98 cm (24 1/4 x 52 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wool, silk, metallic threads, and beads on linen ground; predominately tent stitch; original frame and glass

Not On View


Americas, Textiles and Fashion Arts



Rectangular canvas-work picture depicting a Georgian-style house with horse paddock; a church steeple and beacon in foreground; a figure on horseback and black servant in foreground; a male and female figure at left looking over a wall at a body of water; military-style building in background; trees, flowers, birds and animals throughout; original pine frame with gilt border and original glass.

Affluent girls were educated in the feminine arts of embroidery, painting on glass, and quillwork, as well as in reading and writing. After completing a sampler in their embroidery classes, girls worked pictures that proudly were hung in the family home. While the majority of the pastoral scenes depicted on Boston schoolgirl embroideries are based on European print sources, Otis’s chimneypiece is a realistic depiction of Boston Common, with the beacon on Beacon Hill and the stone mansion, built in 1737 by merchant Thomas Hancock, clearly delineated.


Descended from the artist to Harrison Gray Otis and other members of the Otis family; on loan to the Museum in 1929-1930 and from 1954 to 1995; consigned by members of the family to auction; acquired by the Museum in 1996 at Sotheby's, sale 6800, January 20, 1996, lot 1132.

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated by a friend of the Department of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, a Supporter of the Department of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Barbara L. and Theodore B. Alfond, and Samuel A. Otis, and William Francis Warden Fund, Harriet Otis Cruft Fund, Otis Norcross Fund, Susan Cornelia Warren Fund, Arthur Tracy Cabot Fund, Seth K. Sweetser Fund, Edwin E. Jack Fund, Helen B. Sweeney Fund, William E. Nickerson Fund, Arthur Mason Knapp Fund, Samuel Putnam Avery Fund, Benjamin Pierce Cheney Fund, and Mary L. Smith Fund