Traditional samplers often followed similar patterns. There usually was a border, an alphabet, a paragraph or so of verse (often religious or spiritual), the name of the child stitcher, her age and the year it was worked. There always were motifs either scattered around or concentrated in one section. This Victorian traditional sampler is a fine example of this template.
Our young stitcher, Emma Rainbow, accomplished this finely stitched sampler with pettipoint and an array of teeny stitches when she was only 12 years old. She obviously had mastered the art of embroidery at an early age.
The border is a fabulous show of large open tulips interspersed with floral designs and attached to an undulating and trailing vine with leaves protruding at every opportunity. Her alphabet was well done and centered in capital letters only. To separate the alphabet from her verse, she chose a line of individual large flowers in bloom, each with two leaves on each stem. Her spiritual verse was done in exceptionally teeny stitches, as the entire sampler was worked on a very fine linen ground, the letters in the verse are as good as any adults. Furthermore, without the aid of a magnifying glass it is difficult to see the individual stitches that comprise each letter.
Emma chose to place her nameplate in the center of her work, surrounded by an unusual spray of undulating wildflowers. It reads: “Emma Rainbow, Aged 12 Years. 1854.” On either side of this are further spiritual mottoes.
She saved the bottom third of her sampler to display her talent with a large vignette of Warwick Castle surrounded by some picturesque English countryside. It is wonderfully shaded and the detail of the landscape, complete with trees, shrubs, a river, a bridge and a small cottage, draws one’s eye into this delightful work. On either side of this scene are urns of tulips that fill the space between the vignette and the border.
Emma’s final motifs are a delightfully animated and executed pair of stags facing each other on each side of the vignette. I believe the head of one is larger than the other, adding to the charm of her needlework.
This sampler is housed in its original bird’s eye maple frame with a gilded slip. The deep, rich colors of the maple compliment the rich greens, browns and golds of the work.
The frame and the sampler are both in excellent condition. There is some light gray staining to the bottom edge of the sampler. Without having opened it or disturbing the more recent brown paper backing, I have a feeling that at some point in time the sampler was re-stretched and re-fitted in its frame. The frame’s gilded slip is slightly worn along the edges.
This beautiful and finely stitched, quintessential traditional Victorian sampler would be a prize in anyone’s collection.
It measures 16-3/8 inches wide by 20-5/8 inches high, including the frame.
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