Abigail Foster, Andover,

Abigail Foster, Andover,

Massachusetts, 1810

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sampler size: 18” x 14¾” • framed size: 21¾” x 18¾” • sold

Betty Ring, writing in Girlhood Embroidery, Vol I (Knopf, New York, 1993) states that, “A growing preference for samplers worked on a green ground (usually linsey-woolsey) became noticeable at the turn of the century. They appear in Boston as early as 1788, and later throughout New England.” The use of this richly colored ground, a combination of linen and wool, created samplers with strong visual appeal, as the pale colors of the silk floss contrast beautifully with the deep green fabric. Relatively few linsey-woolsey samplers were made and in the overall, they are rarely found.

This sampler has a particularly delicate aesthetic due in large part to the very fine needlework. The side and top borders are made up of intertwined vines with flower blossoms and leaves growing out of decorated pots sitting on the lawn that forms the bottom border. The bit of blue and black in the double-handled vessels balance nicely with the rosy golden hues of the rest of the needlework. Various trees and small vases of flowers, all stitched freeform, sit on this lawn and ground the sampler well.

The history of the samplermaker’s family is revealed in Foster Genealogy Being the Record of the Posterity of Reginald Foster an Early Inhabitant of Ipswich in New England … by Frederick Clifton Pierce (Chicago, 1899). This book traces the origins of this family back to Reginald Foster (c. 1595-1681), who arrived in Massachusetts in 1638, and by 1641 he was the owner of a large land grant in Ipswich. Abigail was born six generations later, the daughter of Daniel and Hannah (Swan) Foster, who married on October 30, 1797 in Andover. She was born September 19, 1798, the first of their four children. On March 12, 1822, she married Jedediah Holt Barker (1791-1867) of Andover, according to Andover town vital records. They had at least one child, Susannah Foster Barker, who was born in 1826. Abigail died at age 81, on August 10, 1877 and is buried in Brookside Cemetery in West Boxford.

This sampler was worked in silk on linsey-woolsey and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a fine period gold leaf frame. 

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