Ann Metcalfe, England, 1796

Ann Metcalfe, England, 1796

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sampler size: 19 x 17¼” • framed size: 21½” x 19¾” • sold

The maker of the particularly appealing sampler, Ann Metcalfe, was born in 1782 in Kirkby Overblow, Yorkshire, England to John and Dorothy (Boyes) Metcalfe. Kirkby Overblow is an old village in Yorkshire, north of Leeds and west of York, first referenced in the Domesday Book of 1086. This history of this village is deeply connected to the industry of iron smelting and, in Ann Metcalfe’s day, was a much more populated area than it is now.

Ann remained in this town for most of her life. She married Robert Drury here in 1811, and at a later date they moved to Spotland, southwest of Kirkby Overblow and north of Manchester, where she died at age 77 in 1859.

Ann was clearly skilled with a needle. Her sampler was stitched with great precision and includes a wonderful variety of pictorial elements, alphabets, family initials and verse in a striking polychrome palette. A colorful budding vine divides the top register of lettering and a numeric progression from such classic motifs as potted flowers, a stag, squirrels, a dog, house, peacock and a variety of little birds including one in a birdcage. The dog, named Banter, is likely a sweet little portrait of her own dog.

The delightful poem Miss Metcalfe placed in the corner of this pictorial field is her take on “An Inscription” by George Butt (1741-1795), a notable poet, teacher and cleric in England. She replaced the word rainbow with sampler, addressing her wonderful use of color throughout. An additional vine of colorful buds surrounds the composition on three sides, and a bolder strawberry vine runs along the top, completing her sampler.

Worked in silk on linen, this sampler remains in excellent condition. A photo of the reverse of the sampler is included as well. It has been conservation mounted and is in a black painted, molded frame.

(photo of the reverse of the sampler)

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