Antonia Castillo,

Antonia Castillo,

 Cadiz Free School, Spain, 1829

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sampler size: 15¼” x 12” • framed size: 18” x 14¾” • sold

Spanish samplers, frequently displaying fine needlework organized into tight decorative bands, have long been studied by scholars and favored by collectors; and of course, a samplermaker who included specific information about her teacher and the location of her school rendered her work that much more interesting. The text stitched onto this sampler translates to: “Antonia Castillo did this at the Free School of The Royal Society under the direction of Mrs. Joaquina Sanchez, Cadiz, March 1829.”

In an excellent summary of information, conducted by a scholarly researcher, we find that the 1812 Cadiz Constitution declared education be made available to all children, which meant more focus on the development of the public school system, as this was seen as being utmost important to the advancement of Spain. Much interesting information has been recorded on the specifics of the girls’ education, and specifically in the needle arts curriculum. “Most female pupils at the Escuela Gratuita de Cadiz were mentored on rules of etiquette while they learned to sew simple shirts, petticoats, and underpants; to use a spinning wheel; to knit; to prepare needlework samplers; and to embroider garments, either freehand or on a taboret.” Interestingly, through this research, it has also been found that Joaquina Sanchez was appointed as Directora on October 21, 1829, after answering an ad in the Diario Mercantil de Cadiz.

The exemplary skills of Miss Castillo are not only evident by the image of the back which is as beautifully finished as the front (shown below), but the sampler was clearly held in high regard as it was published as Plate 29 in the large format book, Samplers by Susan Mayor and Diana Fowle (London, England, 1990) and a copy of this book accompanies the sampler. In classic Spanish style, Antonia balanced her text with beautiful decorative bands, and a row of identical baskets of flowers across the bottom. A Greek key band, along with additional rows showcasing her aptitude, frames the composition, and the sampler is finally completed with drawnwork and turned edges on all four sides.

Worked in silk on linen, the sampler remains in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a black painted molded frame.

Image of reverse of sampler

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