The Regency period in England can refer to various stretches of time from 1795 to 1837. This period includes the latter part of the reign of King George III and the reigns of his sons George IV and William IV, and was characterized by distinctive trends in British architecture, literature, fashions, politics and culture. The Regency era ended in 1837, when Queen Victoria succeeded William IV.
It was within this time span that this schoolgirl sampler was created. The verse on “Virtue” is emphatically placed near the middle of the sampler. It was unusual for a schoolgirl to take on a moralistic subject as “Virtue,” as more often than not the accepted norm was for more religious or spiritual themes.
The embroidery was done on very fine gauze. The stitches are pettipoint and exceptionally well done. The top quarter of the sampler was devoted to the alphabet and numbers. On each side is a basket, as well as pairs of birds and flowers. Tiny hearts and dogs can be found beneath the numbers.
The first section is divided from the next section by a wonderful border of flowers hanging from long stems. The next section has two large vignettes of antlered deer with two small trees in front of each. Our stitcher, Lucy Hurrell, also placed a large flowering jardinière in the center, with smaller ones behind both deer. The rest of this section is filled with small birds, roses on stems and small Maltese crosses. This section is also separated from the lower section by a pretty twining flower border.
Our stitcher placed her name in a cartouche surrounded by flowers along with her age of 12 years and the date of 1832. She filled the spaces in this section with more birds, including peacocks, more flowering jardinières, baskets of fruit, and flowers. The whole sampler was enclosed by a pretty twining border of yellow roses with green leaves. The tiny stitches are superbly executed in luminous silk floss that seem raised against the fine linen gauze.
One of this sampler’s most exciting characteristics is its vivid colors. The teal blue is worked throughout and is in stark contrast to the deep gold and the rich brown silk flosses.
I have had this 185-year-old sampler professionally restored and conserved on muslin. There is some old insect damage that has been restored. There is some gray toning in places, as well as some colored floss bleeding, especially the teal blue, although this occurs in only some places.
I have framed the sampler in an antique bird’s eye maple frame with a small gilded slip. Its red-brown color and glowing patina suit the sampler well.
It measures 14-3/4 inches wide by 18-1/2 inches high, including the frame.
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