MH, Hebrew Alphabet and Darning Sampler, Holland, 1805
MH, Hebrew Alphabet and
Darning Sampler, Holland, 1805
While there is no doubt that early samplers were made by girls from many different cultures, religions and races, it is extremely unusual to find specific reference to a Jewish background on the needlework itself. This sampler presents itself as the work of a young Dutch schoolgirl, with alphabets, numbers, various narrow bands and lines, three darned squares (one of them incomplete) and a center box with the maker’s initials MH, flanked by birds and the date, 1805. It is the two Hebrew alphabets and one Hebrew word, “Kingdom” that render this a great rarity.
Beginning in the mid-17th century, Jews were attracted to Holland for its greater tolerance and found protection there during the reigns of William IV (1711-1751) and William V (1748-1806). Life began to improve for Dutch Jews at the end of the 18th century and by the early 19th century, with movements underway that hoped to change market-days from Saturday to Monday, to permit Jewish schoolchildren to attend public schools and to allow Jewish men to participate in general military service. Our samplermaker likely attended a school for Jewish children, or may have learned to make her sampler at home.
The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a molded and painted frame.