One hundred sixty-six years ago, our stitcher, Charlotte Mason, decided she wanted to have only a few vignettes and motifs in her sampler. She wanted to have them quite large, rather than the usual verse and alphabet with small motifs.
In one, she has given us a wonderful vignette of a girl riding a horse, sidesaddle of course, her scarf flying in the wind. To balance this she created a scene of a young lady feeding a swan in a small pond surrounded by shrubs. However, she saved her largest vignette for the bottom half of her sampler. This one is complete with a house, garden and gardener, trees, shrubs and a fence. She then placed her name in large letters, “Charlotte Mason’s Work, 1851,” at the bottom.
Her stitches throughout are small and evenly done. The details of the horse’s bridal, costumes, the swan’s beak, garden gate, and much more are all clearly seen due to her good sense of color and small stitches.
She surrounded her sampler with an unusual ribbon border that is totally filled with roses and leaves. This border has a black background; also unusual in a schoolwork sampler.
By avoiding filling the spaces in between the vignettes with small motifs, our attention is thus drawn to only three major scenes. There is a sweet bunch of roses on the top of the sampler to connect your eyes to the two flanking embroideries. By leaving the linen blank, her vignettes have a third-dimensional quality.
The whole embroidery is housed in its original rosewood frame and gilded wood and gesso slip. The large and impressive rosewood frame has a beautiful rich brown color and glowing patina.
The condition of the sampler is excellent, especially considering its age. There is overall age toning, which has imbued it with a golden color that is warm and attractive. Although there is some amount of fading, especially in the lighter shades of wool, some of the colors have held well. The edges of the sampler show small brown stains in the linen ground where the original tacks held it in place. There are also some holes where the linen has pulled away from the original tacks. I have taken out the original backing in order to clean the glass on the inside and added a new paper backing to keep out dust and dirt. The condition of the frame is excellent.
With its decorative solidly filled ribbon-like border, large and attractive vignettes, charming subject matters, beautiful wide and deep rosewood frame, Charlotte Mason has created a beautiful and creative sampler for us to enjoy.
It measures 27-1/2 inches square.
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