Occasionally we find a child with an extraordinary sense of design and color. This talent includes the selection of motifs that would work well together, the spacing of these motifs within the whole sampler, and lastly, the color choices that would harmonize well with one another to produce a very pretty piece of needlework. This sampler, by Emily Martin, succeeds in all these important areas. Although not dated, this piece’s circa date is about 1830.
The flowers in the middle section are large and luminous, exquisitely stitched in silk in pink, gold, cream and white. Emily surrounded her central flower motifs with a preponderance of other blooms.
On top and beneath her central motif is her spiritual verse which reads:
“In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” (upper verse)
“Thus saith the Lord them that honour me I will honour.” (lower verse)
Under the upper verse our stitcher placed a gold and pink bird in flight. To balance this, she put a blue and cream-colored bird with a large beak between the words “Thus” and “saith.” I find this example of placement creative as it is not often that schoolgirls placed motifs between words in their verses.
For her other motifs, Emily used jardinières of tulips, several different types of birds, hearts, crowns, large singular tulips, triangular-shaped trees, a pair of dogs, a pair of deer, and a pair of tree standards. Her border, which surrounds all the flowers and other motifs, is as delightful as it is creative. There are pink and blue and other colored bees, intermixed with flowers of all kinds. The flower stems twine in an undulating fashion around the sampler.
Emily squeezed in so many wonderful smaller and larger motifs that one misses some charmers at first glance. She accomplished all of this by using long and short stitches, satin stitches, cross stitches and French knots.
The sampler is housed in an antique oak frame of deep color and patina. The frame is not original to the sampler but suits it well.
The color retention in the silk floss is phenomenal. The luminosity of the silk floss itself is amazing, as it has kept a very soft sheen in spite of its age. The linen ground is overall in excellent condition, aside from some insect damage which resulted in small holes and bits of the ground missing, mainly in the lower part of the sampler. There is some overall age toning, but this is very light. I have had the sampler professionally conserved on cotton fabric, which gives it additional body.
If you have been searching for a very pretty and unusual early 19 th c sampler, then Emily Martin’s work would fit the bill quite nicely.
It measures 17-5/8 inches wide by 21 inches high, including the frame.