Ann Burnn, Scotland, 1771

Ann Burnn, Scotland, 1771

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sampler size: 12¾” x 12” • framed size: 15” x 14¼” • price: $3200

Ann Burnn’s sampler, dated 1771, is a particularly fine-stitched sampler that presents excellent pictorial imagery. The most significant is a tableau-like portrayal of the sacrifice of Isaac, with Abraham dressed in a long red coat with many buttons, his sword held aloft; the doomed ram is hiding near the curlicue bushes nearby. Also of particular note is the unusual little scene at the right – a stone viaduct over a river, possibly the Glenfinnian Viaduct in Inverness-shire. A dog crosses on top and a waterfowl is shown in the water, could be the Lock Shiel. Along the bottom of the sampler is a detailed depiction of a building – perhaps the school that Ann attended - with bell structure on top and a little yellow bird on top of that, a pair of large spotted stags and a section of a house with an unusual round window.

At the top is an interesting image, a pair of figures, referred to as boxers and always shown facing one another with their bodies in profile and their heads full face. These figures were popular with samplermakers for centuries and those stitched by Ann Burnn are remarkably faithful to the early versions, however, she posed them in the manner of Adam and Eve, flanking a stylized apple tree with a serpent around its trunk.

Elsewhere on the sampler is a tall lady that seems to be a personalized depiction, birds on a basket of fruit, a flock of birds and one of little sheep, an open-tailed peacock and several sets of initials. In tiny lettering is a biblical proverb, “Favour is deceitful and Beauty is vain but a Woman that feareth the Lord she shall be praised.” 

The sampler was worked in silk on wool and is in excellent condition with some very minor areas of loss to the wool at the edges.

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