Eliza Dean,

Eliza Dean,

Bedford, Massachusetts, 1802

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sampler size: 21” x 16” • framed size: 23¼” x 18¼” • sold

Eliza Dean’s 1802 sampler is part of an interesting, large group made in the towns west and north of Boston in the late 18th century through about 1830. The format almost always is a tall vertical with a deeply arcaded border that is often defined by a graphic, highly structured march of small squares. An assortment of elements will generally embellish the open areas of the border and sometimes there is a house and lawn scene along the bottom of the sampler. The center rectangle, framed with a narrow sawtooth edging, presents alphabets and numbers and the inscription of the maker, but rarely a verse or poem. The fact that so many samplers share these characteristics in quite a few variations would indicate that there were many different teachers and many different schools that taught girls to make samplers that echoed this popular composition. Some of the public institutions holding samplers from this group are the Baltimore Museum of Art, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian, and the Concord Antiquarian Society.

Eliza Dean’s fine sampler is a newly discovered example from this group and one that offers a few more unusual elements, specifically the diamond shaped or diamond variant elements, the teapots and the quirky little house with quoin stones down each side. The low, fat pots of flowers that flank the house finish the scene and fill the space nicely.

The sampler is accompanied by a small memorial watercolor (image below) that was from the same family, and which allowed for full identification of Eliza Dean. Born on August 30, 1779 in Bedford, she was the daughter of Thaddeus and Elizabeth Dean. In 1807, Eliza married a gunsmith, Joel Richardson (1777-1849) in Boston and she died in 1823. The small, framed watercolor on paper memorializes Thaddeus Dean who died on December 3, 1803 and Ebenezer Richardson who died on January 26, 1818.

The sampler retains much of its original color as seen in a photo of the reverse (image below) of the sampler taken prior to mounting. Worked in silk on linen, it remains in excellent condition and is conservation mounted into a black painted, molded frame.


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