One of the biggest challenges for young stitchers when practicing their letters and stitches was in creating designs that turned out both pleasing and functional. It’s obvious that the young stitcher for this piece, Jane Dalton, achieved both. This sampler is exceptionally pleasing in design and execution, especially if one appreciates symmetry.
There is a central verse in the upper half of her sampler, with a very nice assortment of vignettes and motifs, both large and small, surrounding it. She choose a two-story brick house as her focal point in the lower half of the sampler. She surrounded this large house with pairs of flowering jardinières, a pair of trees, a pair of workmen, a pair of dogs, several pairs of birds, a pair of spotted birds, and a pair of chickens. The larger motifs flow easily one to the other, interspaced with smaller ones that hold your interest. The larger motifs complement one another in style, scale, size and color. On each side of the verse are angels with large baskets of fruit to adorn the spaces on each side. In fact, one of the main characteristics of this sampler that I enjoy is how Jane has harmoniously woven together her motifs so that the echo each other in a pleasing manner.
The vignette chosen for the very top of the piece is striking. There are two large clipped evergreen trees in the shape of triangles, with a dovecote in between with resting doves. In the right and left top corners are jardinières with large flowers planted within them. Between the vignette and the large flowers are two flowering trees. She also placed large lambs, rabbits, tall-legged dogs, squirrels and small baskets of fruit throughout. Our Jane was definitely a pair person.
Jane used a very fine linen ground that enabled her to make the teeny stitches that add a wonderful quality to the overall beauty of the sampler. She used a satin stitch for the bases of many of the motifs. This satin stitching is another fine addition that adds to the enjoyment of the piece. She also chose to use an undulating flowering border with small leaves interspersed between the flowers to help showcase here work.
The sampler is housed in its original bird’s eye maple frame with a gilded slip and its original bubbled and wavy hand-made glass. The frame suits this sampler well. The maple has turned a beautiful honey-colored brown. It has acquired a good, soft patina. The condition is basically excellent. There is a slight veneer loss in the upper right corner and the paint surrounding the outside of the frame has had some crazing that had been previously restored. There are also small amounts of veneer loss in the corners.
The principle colors of dark green, light and dark gold, ivory and black (for the verse), keep this sampler elegant and traditional. The fine linen ground has aged toned overall into a soft, golden color. This color provides a beautiful background for the golds and greens in the sampler.
The sampler is in very good condition overall. Their are several places of minor insect damage. The lower left-hand corner has been eaten, as well as in a few places in the border where the insects got into it. There are a few minor insect holes, but the largest is to the left of one of the large flowers and to the left of the flowering jardinière in the center of the sampler. But by the end of the day, the fact that Jane was only twelve years old when she accomplished this fabulous piece of needlework, the insect damage does not deter one from finding pleasure in it.
This is a charming, creative, decorative, yet traditional sampler, by a young schoolgirl whose goal was to practice her stitches and thereby hone her sewing skills.
It measures 23-1/2 inches wide by 22-3/8 inches high, including the frame.
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