Emily H. Davis, Burlington County,
New Jersey, 1834
The finest of all of the needlework of New Jersey is the outstanding group of samplers made within the Quaker community and schools of Burlington County in the early 19th century. These praiseworthy samplers have been studied by scholars and collected by curators for years now, appreciated for the high quality of craftsmanship, the overall composition and the whimsy of their many elements. Many of these samplers are known; indeed many were included in the statewide exhibition at the Morven Museum in 2014, Hail Specimen of Female Art! New Jersey Schoolgirl Needlework, 1726-1860.
We are pleased to offer this excellent sampler made in 1834 by Emily H. Davis, which is a newly discovered example that fits squarely into this important group. Throughout her work Emily included many of the classic elements of this Burlington County group: the brick house in three-quarter view with fencing and flanked by freeform trees, the rich green lawn worked in lustrous, long stitches and the sheep, cat, fox and rooster interacting on the lawn. Additionally, baskets of fruit and Quaker-patterned sprigs of berries and flowers provide embellishment. The side borders are the classic Burlington County scrolling double vine with flowers, buds and leaves.
Details such as the whiskers on the cat, the striped shutters and three dormer windows of the house, and the splendid, large exotic birds appear on other samplers from this Burlington County group, as do the three pairs of lovebirds, a classic Quaker motif. Several elements, most notably the polychrome heart above the house, are worked in the queen’s-stitch, a fine demonstration of the maker’s proficiency.
The precise identity of Emily H. Davis remains elusive at this time, but research continues. The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a tiger maple and cherry corner block frame.