There are many things that make this early 19th century sampler utterly delightful, especially if you enjoy symmetry. Elizabeth, our stitcher, obviously had a penchant for stitching her motifs in pairs. The more you study the composition of her work, the more this characteristic becomes noticeable.
The stitching alone is just incredible. She used the silk floss to its best advantage, creating her motifs from tiny stitches. Her work is primarily done in cross stitches with fine silk floss, each stitch overlaid in a remarkable straight and careful manner. I had to use a magnifying glass to this work to get a better idea of her talent as an accomplished stitcher. Although this sampler fits the description of many schoolgirl needleworks, this one is by no means like many of these.
She began her sampler with the traditional upper and lower case of the alphabet. To take up the additional space of the lower-case alphabet, she added her numbers to 10, using a heart to make sure that the end-space had some motif within it.
In the upper third of the sampler she placed a large brick house with five windows and three chimneys. It was all done in teeny silkwork stitches, some so small that you have to pull the sampler up close to see them.
On each side of the house, Elizabeth place pairs of all of her motifs. There are large fruit-bearing trees with birds perched on top, a pair of flowering jardinières, a pair of bunches of long-stemmed flowers, a pair of chirping birds, a pair of pheasants, a pair of dogs, two pairs of crowns, a pair of hearts, a pair of diamonds and small decorative patterns that match each other on each side. All of her matching motifs echo one another as the either face each other or face opposite each other. For example, the pair of lions on each side of the verse face each other, while the birds perched on top of small trees face away from each other. She then placed her central verse with matching motifs at each end to take care of empty spaces.
The lower portion of the sampler is filled with more trees, decorative stars, flowering jardinières, a central floral motif and two large deer with pronounced antlers that anchor both the bottom left and right.
She then placed her name, Elizabeth Taylor, and date of completion, “Nov. 12, 1824,” in a line above her bottom border.
The earth colors of browns and greens, with gold and black, harmonize well together in a pleasing manner. I can honestly say this is one of the most charming samplers I have come across in quite some time.
It is housed in its original turned wood and painted frame. The simplicity of the frame suits the little sampler well.
The overall condition is excellent. There are a few places that appear to be damaged by insects or from small pulls of the fine linen backing. However, in a sampler that is nearly 200 years old, these are minor condition issues. The frame is in excellent condition as well, with only some small amount of wear in only a few places. I believe it was re-painted at one time or another.
I can’t imagine any collection of schoolgirl samplers that wouldn’t be enhanced by the addition of this one.
It measures 14 inches wide by 13 inches high, including the frame.
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