Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You are not forgotten...

The beautiful new wing of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts is full of surprises and work that has never been on display before because there wasn't room. One of the biggest surprises, one I've returned to many times is the exquisite room of cross stitch pieces done all around the 1700's in Boston and surrounding areas by 12 year old girls. It's an amazing room that guarantees goosebumps when you begin to think how seldom women, let alone young girls from that era get represented. These fragile pieces are gorgeous, gentle works and a way for these girls to learn their letters. The one pictured here is a particular favorite of mine and one I make a point of seeing often, it's by Martha Decoster (Decoster or Decosta is Portuguese for "the coast"). She lived in the North End of Boston, my old neighborhood and even though her name conjures up images of the Sea her father was "a humble bricklayer". Clearly he was a busy man as Boston is smothered in brick!
I cannot make out all Martha has written at the top of her piece but the bottom writing is clear and says: "Martha Decoster is my name New England is my nation Boston is my dwelling place and Christ is my salvation when I am dead and lied in grave and all my bones are rotten if this you see remember me and never let me be forgotten." Martha stitched this piece in 1749, 262 years later Martha you bring tears to my eyes and a chill to think a 12 year old girl could write this and so beautifully. You are not forgotten...

1 comment:

  1. ann marie

    Martha Decoster was a sister of my 5th great grandfather. I have known about this piece of needlework all my life although I have never seen it not even a photo until now. Just before my birth in Chicago, my grandmother took my mother to visit a lady named Dorothy Vandercook, a 3rd great grand daughter of Martha. She also lived in Chicago. On a wall in her home was this piece of needlework. Granny wrote down the verse and sketched the design. I had read that this piece had been sold but did not know who the buyer was. Is it still on display at the museum?

    the verse at the top is as follows
    One did commend me to a Wife Fair and
    Young That had French Spanish an Itallon
    Toungue Thank'd him kindly and told him
    loved non such For I thought one tongue
    For a wife too much What love ye not the
    Learned Yes as my life A learned Schooler
    but not a learned Wife --- Martha Decoster
    Wrought this 1749