Elizabeth Morrey,

Elizabeth Morrey,

Kirkee, East Indies, circa 1840

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sampler size: 13¼” x 10¼” • framed size: 16¼” x 13¼” • price: $1100

Elizabeth Morrey worked this interesting sampler and signing it, “Aged 10 Years Kirkee E Indies.”  We can assume that she was an English girl whose family lived in Kirkee, and that her father was likely there for military, missionary or trade purposes. Samplers made in areas far from Europe or the United States are uncommon and notable for this reason. Elizabeth’s sampler is a sound practice of her lettering; she worked five different alphabets. Her practice included a variety of decorative bands, as well.

Kirkee, now known as Khadki, was the site of an 1817 battle between the British East India Company and the Maratha Empire. The British achieved victory and took over Kirkee as a military cantonment, becoming one of the largest and richest cantonments in the world. The Royal Regiment’s families moved there, and likely missionary schools were set up, as well, to educate and religiously guide the native residents.

Interesting to note is that one other sampler is known from Kirkee and it is published as fig 52 in Samplers and Tapestry Embroideries by Marcus Huish (first published in 1900 by Longmans and the Fine Art Society, London). Mr. Huish was the author of several books, an art dealer and held several related roles, including the first Managing Director of the Fine Art Society. It is indeed of interest that he featured a Kirkee sampler in his book, and to read his century-old educated view of such a sampler. “Many of the Anglo-Indian mothers who reared and brought up families in the East Indies … must have trained their girls in the cult of sampler-making … not otherwise remarkable except for the fact that it was worked by a child at Kirkee, and shows how insensibly the European ornament becomes orientalised [sic] as it passes under Eastern influence…”

Miss Morrey’s sampler is in excellent condition, worked in linen on linen. It has been conservation mounted into a 19th century frame.

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