The Lititz Moravian Girls’ School of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania opened its doors in 1748, and gained a wide reputation for offering its students a strong academic education, as well as skills in the needle arts. In 1794, the school decided to open enrollment to non-Moravians, and to accept boarders, allowing it to become one of the most important American schools for girls, and attracting students from many different areas. High style silk embroidered pictures were a specialty of the school and outstanding pieces were produced between 1815 and the 1830s.
Sidney Caroline Hendricks, a young lady from Baltimore, entered the Lititz School in 1822 and worked this splendid silk embroidery there, indicating that she finished it on May 30th, 1823, in an inscription on the reverse (see below). The subject depicted is “A Favorite Lamb.” Many of the classic characteristics that can be found on embroideries from this school are included on this piece. It is surrounded by the wide chenille oval border with spangle appliqués, which is one of these signature treatments from this school. This embroidery was in the private collection of the renowned scholar and collector, Betty Ring, and was illustrated in the definitive book about this school, The Ornamental Branches: Needlework and Arts from the Lititz Moravian Girls’ School 1800 – 1850, written by Patricia T. Herr (The Heritage Center of Lancaster County, Inc. 1996), as figure 27. Dr. Herr states that it was likely Peter Grosh who provided the pattern and painted the watercolor. Peter Grosh, a Moravian living in Mechanicsville, was a self-taught painter who worked with theLititz School from 1819 through 1829.
This embroidery was worked in silk, chenille and metallic, coiled spangles and paint and ink on twill-weave silk. It is in excellent condition and remains in its fine original gold leaf frame with a replaced eglomisé mat.