Harriet Lee, Granby,

Harriet Lee, Granby,

Connecticut, 1826

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sampler size: 17” x 12¾” • framed size: 20¾” x 16½” • sold

This beautifully worked, classic New England sampler was made by Harriet Lee at the age of 10 in 1826, as she so notes in her inscription along the bottom. Her work displays several rows of neat alphabets, in keeping with the tradition of a marking sampler, but with more skillfully stitched dividing lines. An aphorism just below her alphabets read: “Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours / And ask them what report they bore to heaven,” a quote of English poet, Edward Young (1683-1765). A budding vine divides this from the grounding scene of trees along a hilly lawn; Harriet’s inscription worked between them. An image of the back of the sampler (shown below) indicates that Harriet stitched her name in a pale pink, but it was never very contrasting from the tan ground linen. Borders of grapevines with fat bunches of grapes down each side and an additional vine of large blossoms along the top, along with a sawtooth border surround sampler and create a highly appealing framework, and a fine drawnwork edge on all four sides display particular skill with a needle.

Harriet Lee was born in 1816 to Norman Lee (1785-1826) and Sarah Ann (Wheeler) Lee (1792-1852). The Lee family of Connecticut dates back to the seventeenth century and much information is published in John Lee of Farmington, Hartford Co, Connecticut and His Descendants 1634-1897. John Lee, Harriet’s great-great-great-grandfather, was a street and land surveyor. He lived in his father’s house, which, interesting to note, is now Miss Porter’s School, a private college preparatory school for girls. The school was founded by Sarah Porter, an advocate for education reform, in 1843 and along with the traditional curriculum she insisted they included a variety of science courses, as well as athletics. Harriet’s grandfather, Oren Lee, enlisted as a soldier of the Revolution, as his older brothers did before him, but due to illness he served as ultimately a drummer boy. In 1806 he moved to Granby from Berlin, Connecticut; he was a State Representative of both towns. Harriet’s father, Norman, was Oren’s first child, born in 1785 in Granby. Norman married Sarah Ann Wheeler of Brookfield, Massachusetts in 1815. Harriet went on to marry twice: first to Edward Kendall, and they had a daughter, and then to Lorenzo Peck after Edward died. Harriet died in 1854.

Her sampler remains in excellent condition. It is now conservation mounted and in a cherry frame with a maple bead.

(photo of the reverse of the sampler)

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