Euphemia Drybourgh, Fife, Scotland, 1849

Euphemia Drybourgh, Fife, Scotland, 1849

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sampler size: 16½” x 11¾” • framed size: 20” x 15¼” • sold

Certain characteristics clearly reveal the Scottish origins of a sampler, and they can include a predominantly red and green palette, many family initials, large block alphabets with curlicue surrounds and stylized peacocks. These are telling features found on Euphemia Drybourgh’s sampler, which she stitched in 1849.

Walter Dryburgh married Agnes Hutton in 1819 in Wemyss, Fife, Scotland. Wemyss is a coastal parish notable for its many caves, for which its Gaelic name is derived. Walter, then a coal miner, and Agnes had six children, Euphemia was their youngest, born in 1834. The Dryburgh family specifically lived in West Coaltown, a community within Wemyss, where by 1850 Walter had become a shop keeper. In 1860 Euphemia married Henry McLeod, also a store keeper, and records indicate they had eleven children. The family remained in Wemyss, and Euphemia died in 1899.

Euphemia was fourteen years old when she stitched her sampler. A delightfully classic composition, it features a two-story house with tall mullioned windows on a small hillock. The house is surrounded by flowers and peacocks and initials. Along with the rows of family names and initials, she worked a full row of green numbers followed by half the alphabet and large letters in this notable curlicue font. An additional band of clustered flowers or berries cuts across the middle of her composition, which is framed by a budding vine on all four sides.

Worked in wool on linen, Miss Drybourgh’s sampler remains in very good condition with a few very minor areas of loss. It has been conservation mounted into a bird’s eye maple frame with a gold liner.

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