Victorian Mid-19th Century Silkwork Courting Sampler Dated 1854Victorian Mid-19th Century Silkwork Courting Sampler Dated 1854Victorian Mid-19th Century Silkwork Courting Sampler Dated 1854Victorian Mid-19th Century Silkwork Courting Sampler Dated 1854Victorian Mid-19th Century Silkwork Courting Sampler Dated 1854Victorian Mid-19th Century Silkwork Courting Sampler Dated 1854Victorian Mid-19th Century Silkwork Courting Sampler Dated 1854Victorian Mid-19th Century Silkwork Courting Sampler Dated 1854Victorian Mid-19th Century Silkwork Courting Sampler Dated 1854

I believe this sampler was more meant to be an example of a young lady’s needlework skills so that she could more easily attract a suitor rather than a practice piece. Needleworks such as this were often displayed in the drawing room of the home, where her courters could admire her work.

Young unmarried women needed to show these potential husbands that they could take care of a household’s sewing requirements. Brides were expected to darn household linens, make and repair clothing, monogram initials and create embroideries to decorate the home. They were also called upon to make bed hangings, upholster chairs and sew cushions. What better way to show off their skills than showing off a pretty, well-executed sampler where their suitors could see it?

One of the reasons I believe this was the case with this sampler is the relatively advanced age of the stitcher. Elizabeth Clarke was 23 years old when she finished it in 1854. Further evidence is suggested by the embroidered motifs of a young lady holding a basket in one hand and a young man taking off his hat in her presence. Also, there is a pair of cupids observing the scene while flying above a manor house. In addition, two hearts were placed near two stars and two singing birds.

Our stitcher was incredibly skilled at needlework. The placements of her motifs, the high caliber and technical expertise of her stitching, her spacing, and her fine color choices and combinations attest to this. It was worked on very fine linen.

Her sampler was divided into three main sections. The middle contains a spiritual verse, while the upper and lower sections are entirely comprised of charming motifs. Elizabeth chose a flower border to help enclose the verse. Surrounding the sampler is a twining strawberry border.

An imposing manor house is situated above the verse, with flowering jardinières and baskets of fruit on either side. These motifs were worked in very fine silk floss in counted cross stitch that is small enough to force the viewer to hold the work closely in in order to enjoy Elizabeth’s skill.

The bottom of the sampler features a pair of small flowering trees on each side of the courting couple. In the middle is a large urn filled with flowers. Beneath the urn is a pair of dogs that face each other. The stitcher’s nameplate was placed below these motifs. It reads: “Elizabeth Clarke Aged 23 Years 1854.”

Her sampler is framed in its original mahogany frame with a narrow wood and gesso gilded slip. It has achieved a wonderful, deep reddish-brown color as well as a soft and shiny patina.

The sampler is in excellent condition overall. It appears to have previously been conserved in recent years. The linen has aged to a golden color that adds to its character. Upon close inspection, there are some minor holes in the linen, mainly near the top and no doubt from old insect damage. As Elizabeth’s embroidery was very tight, there also are a few separations of the linen from the pulling of the stitches on such a fine linen ground. There are no stains or any other condition issue to mar one’s enjoyment of this lovely piece of needlework. The frame is in excellent condition. There are some old darkened spots along with a small sliver of missing veneer, but these just add to the antique character of the sampler.

With its exquisite pettipoint stitching, whimsical motifs, superb composition, harmonizing color scheme, fabulous condition and original mahogany frame, this is an utterly charming and extremely collectible antique sampler.

It measures 14-3/4 inches wide by 15-15/16 inches high, including the frame.

Item ID: PJR-1055

Victorian Mid-19th Century Silkwork Courting Sampler Dated 1854

$1,275 $995 USD SALE

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