A huge monument dominates the landscape in this intriguing example of schoolgirl art. Sketched in pencil and outlined with a garland of flowers, the monument is not a funerary object but rather a family record. A typeset genealogy identifies the family of Charles and Chloe Smith Hay, and also records the Hay and Smith grandparents and their children. Names, dates and places of birth for 37 family members are recorded, with obituaries only for Charles Hay and four sons.
Large trees frame an architectural collage of New England buildings in the background. An architectural historian pinpointed the Observatory, Merchants' Exchange and a townhouse on Free Street in Portland, Maine. The bridge over Back Bay, Boston's State House and General Hospital, and an Episcopal Church in Providence, R.I., were also identified. The competent draftsmanship suggests a professional artist may have drawn the buildings.
The maker used silk thread, watercolor, pencil, ink and oil paint on a combined silk and linen ground. Large silk embroidered flowers interspersed with small primitive trees painted in oil on linen create a surreal foreground. Conversely, the background is primarily a painted composition on silk to highlight the architecture.
The maker is unknown, but it may have been the Hays' youngest daughter, Zilpha Ann Hay, born in 1818 in Waterford, Maine, birthplace of most of the 12 Hay children. The work contains typescript genealogy, architectural drawings and other stylistic characteristics associated with Miss Mary Rea's school in Portland, suggesting Zilpha probably created this work there about 1840.