Although difficult to believe, this exquisitely silk embroidered sampler was done by a nine-year-old! The workmanship, design, choice of motifs, spatial sensitivity, choice of verse and color combinations all appear to be the work of a much older seamstress.
Jane Knight, our nine-year-old schoolgirl stitcher, was advanced beyond her years in the skills necessary to accomplish a sampler like this. She selected only three or four colors of silk embroidery floss for her sampler; they harmonize well with each other and give the piece its traditional feel.
She chose Adam and Eve to play an important role in drawing one’s eyes to the top of her sampler. On each side she carefully laid out identical flowering jardinières, complete with birds perched on top and animals on each side. She chose to have deer in her portrayal of the Garden of Eden.
In the central third of her work is a spiritual verse. The embroidery for it was done in black silk and is exceptionally neat, with good examples of upper and lower case letters. On each side of the verse Jane placed large baskets of fruit and flowering jardinières. However, she left a large space, which she filled in with a large, 4-chimney house with 17 windows. Surrounding the house she put in trees, dogs and birds, creating more of a vignette than just scattered motifs.
In the lower section of the sampler is her name, age and date of completion in a cartouche of triangular-shaped satin stitches that are edged one against the other. In large letters she proudly stitched: “Jane Knight, Aged 9 Years, 1842.” On each side of the nameplate are even more flowering jardinières, one of which has birds in and around it. There are two adorable rabbits and squirrels as well on each side.
Jane enclosed her sampler with a traditional winding border with large flowers emanating from small stems. The open flowers are worked in two shades of gold and green.
The sampler is stitched on a very fine linen cloth. This linen has age-toned ever so slightly into a pretty light golden color, adding to the overall charm of this sampler.
The condition of this piece is excellent, especially considering its age of 175 years. There are no holes, staining, or other types of usual damage often found on antique samplers. I have had the sampler backed on muslin and acid-free card for conservation and presentation. I have also placed it in an antique bird’s eye maple frame of the same vintage with a small gilded slip that serves to keep the needlework away from the glass. The pretty frame is in excellent condition, with only very minor losses to the veneer.
This is a beautiful and incredibly stitched early Victorian sampler that is all the more appealing because a nine-year-old accomplished it.
It measures 16-1/2 inches wide by 19-7/8 inches high, including the frame.
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