Betsy Ayres, North Brookfield,

Betsy Ayres, North Brookfield,

Worcester County, Massachusetts, 1813
Provenance: Betty Ring Collection

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sampler size: 12¼” x 10¾” • frame size: 15½” x 14” • sold

A small and charming sampler worked on fine linen gauze, this is signed, “Betsy Ayres aged 11 years N Brookfield August 4 1813.” It was in the personal collection of renowned needlework scholar and author, Betty Ring, for many years and we are happy to be able to continue to offer samplers with this illustrious provenance.

The sampler has an appealing delicacy throughout, while also indicating a high level of skill in the needle arts. Betsy stitched a building with an unusual, tall and elegant windowed tower that dominates the pictorial register, and which offers details such as the mullions and an arch-top door. Feathery flowers in a latticework urn and a windswept tree finish the scene. The verse is the first four lines from Elegy Written in a Country Graveyard, by noted British poet, Thomas Gray (1716-1771), published in 1751 and very popular for decades on both sides of the pond.

History of North Brookfield Massachusetts, by J. H. Temple (North Brookfield, Massachusetts, 1887), informs us that the Ayres family came to this town in the early 18th century. Betsy was born on October 7, 1801, the daughter of Jabez and Hannah (Gilbert) Ayres. She married Dr. Luther Brigham (1785-1856), also from a prominent North Brookfield family and they had five children who were born between 1830 and 1838. Betsy died on October 23, 1841 and is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is very good condition with some very minor areas of weakness. It has been conservation mounted and stabilized and is in a dark cherry frame with a black outer bead.

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