Arabella Downer,

Arabella Downer,

Thetford, Orange County, Vermont, 1820

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Sampler size: 16¾” x 12½” • Framed size: 19” x 14¾” • Price: $4200

Far fewer samplers were made in Vermont than in the other New England states and well documented examples are hard to find. That said, we currently have three very good and interesting Vermont samplers, an unusual circumstance. The samplers were made in 1810, 1820 and 1828, one in Windham County and two in Orange County. Shared characteristics include the ground fabric of tightly woven, beige linen, a subdued palette and an overall free-form quality to the pictorial elements. Two of the samplermakers included depictions of houses, which are not commonly found on Vermont samplers. All three are very well documented and accompanied by extensive family histories. We hope you enjoy these: Selima F. Hebard, Arabella Downer and Julia Starr.

Signed, “Arabella Downer’s Sampler made in the 9th year of her age. A. D. 1820,” this displays an appealing quality to the pictorial register – the house is carefully worked with details to the windows and door and the leafy tree is unusually organic. The alphabets nicely include a listing of the vowels and the classic, cautionary verse advises that the love of God is more valuable than shining gold and richest ore.

The Downers of America with Genealogical Record by David R. Downer (Newark, NJ, 1900) traces the history of this family from Wiltshire, England to America circa 1650, when Robert and Hannah Downer settled in Newbury, Massachusetts. Arabella’s line of the family removed to Connecticut and then to Vermont by the 1750s. Born in Thetford, north of Hanover, on September 29, 1811, she was the daughter of Gardner and Mabel (Ranstead) Downer who married in 1802. Arabella was the sixth of their eight children and some of her sisters were equally lyrically named: Octavia, Elvira, Sabrina and Althea. In 1832, Arabella married Lyman Hinckley (1801-1882), and they remained in Thetford where they had a daughter, also named Arabella, born 1844. Arabella Sr. died in 1844, likely as a result of the childbirth, and is buried in Post Mills Cemetery.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a molded and black painted frame.

 

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