Alice Swan,

Alice Swan,

Shipborne School, Kent, England, 1857

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sampler size: 12½” x 11½” • framed size: 14¾” x 13¾” • sold

Alice Swan stitched this very neat and handsome sampler at Shipborne School in Kent, England, in 1857. While this was made a bit later into the 19th century than most schoolgirl samplers, it closely resembles in nature the large body of work known from the significant group of samplers made at the Bristol Orphanages, specifically Ashley Down, the primary Bristol orphanage building as well as at other church funded schools and institutions from about the 1860s through the early 20th century.

With great precision, Alice stitched red and blue lettering and decorative bands and motifs onto a tightly woven linen ground fabric. She was born in 1845 to William and Alice (Eyles) Swan in Shipborne; she was their first of three children. She attended Shipborne School, which was established in 1852 as a church funded school, this coincided with the great expansion of the Bristol Orphanages. Clearly there was a trend in samplermaking within church education.

One numerical progression was completed, filling the space at the end of three lines of alphabets. Miss Swan stitched a variety of alphabets, dividing each line with a neat band, a flowering vine or geometric diamonds. The most classic of sampler verses spaciously fills the bottom register, flanked by bellflowers, squirrels and lions and crowns. An excellent wrapped rod framework finishes the composition on all four sides, and Alice completed her sampler by turning and stitching the ends of the ground fabric, as well. The tidiness of her work is also visible in the image of the back of the sampler (shown below).

At the age of 24, circa 1870, Alice married James Logan, an Irishman, in Kent, and census records indicate that in 1881 they had moved to Scotland. By the age of 65 Alice was widowed and residing in London where her occupation is listed as “Plain Needlework Private.” Her sampler remains as evidence of her lifelong skill.

Worked in silk on linen, it is in excellent condition and has been conservation mounted into a period frame.

Image of the reverse of sampler

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