Eleanor Holloway,

Eleanor Holloway,

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1824

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sampler size: 18¾” x 19½” • framed size: 22½” x 23¼” • sold

A large and beautifully worked sampler, this is signed, “Eleanor Holloway’s work aged 10 years 1824.” The significant depictions are the stately brick house with wonderful details, such as the mullioned windows and fanlight over the door, and the large spread-wing eagle with a constellation of stars above him. Many other motifs decorate the sampler and the lawn is nicely animated with a flock of sheep guarded by dogs. The large lily-of-the-valley plants show the influence of Quaker sampler designs prevalent in the area. An undulating vine with carnation blossoms and leaves provides a fine visual framework for the sampler.

The verse reads, “While o’er desert world I roam / Teach me to seek a better home / Unstained by woe Unchanged by Years / Unlike this gloomy vale of tears;” a verse that was much published in Christian hymnals of the early 19th century.

Born in Philadelphia, Eleanor Holloway was the daughter of Thomas Holloway (1790-1853), a well-regarded marine engineer who designed and built steam engines, and who gained a national reputation in the early years of the 19th century, and his wife, Hannah Holloway (1793-1820). Along with many notable marine engine projects, Thomas built and installed a steam engine for a malt house in Philadelphia, the first steam engine installed in a brewery in the United States. It was used to grind malt and pump water for over 50 years.

Eleanor – also known by the commonly used nickname Ellen – died young, in 1836, and is buried along with family members in the renowned Laurel Hill Cemetery overlooking the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

The sampler is worked in silk on linen. While there has been some overall fade, it was worked in a soft palette of colors as evidenced by a detail photo of the reverse of the sampler showing the house, lawn and inscription, taken prior to mounting. It has been conservation mounted and is in a figured maple frame with a cherry bead.

Detail from reverse


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