Jane Hilliar,

Jane Hilliar,

Hampshire, England, 1761

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sampler size: 13” x 12¾” • frame size: 15¼” x 15” • price: $3300

This is a remarkable sampler for its technique and provenance. It is signed, “JANE HILLIAR HUR SAMPELOR FINISHED JUNE 17 1761.” The composition centers on a beautifully designed medallion that contains a squirrel and many other animals and birds animate the wide band center band. The lettering along the top reads, “LORD give me Wisdom to direct my ways I begnot Riches nor / Yetlength of days my little children to come me / and learn the ABC.” The needlework is extremely tight and fine throughout, evidence that Jane’s teacher was one of the very many fine instructresses working in England in the 18th century.

Quite notably, this sampler retained its original backboard with notations that indicated provenance. It was exhibited in the South Kensington Museum in 1873 in their “Exhibition of Decorative Art Needlework made before 1800.” The sampler is listed in the published exhibition catalogue as “A specimen of a domestic sampler of the last century.” At the time the sampler was owned by a descendant of the maker and these notations lead to the identification of Jane. The South Kensington Museum, founded in 1852, was renamed as the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1899.

Jane Hilliar born in 1751 in Hampshire, England; her father was Thomas Hilliar. At aged 18, she married Joseph Cundell (also spelled Condell) on November 16, 1769 in St Lawrence at Hungerford, Wiltshire, England. The couple remained in Hungerford and had eight children. Joseph Cundell was born in 1747 in London. At age 15, he was apprenticed to Edward Withers, Surgeon and Apothecary in London. In 1769, his residence is listed as Hungerford, Wiltshire and this is presumably when he met Jane. In 1771, Joseph ran an ad in the local newspaper, saying “Mr. Cundell, Surgeon…is inclined to open BALSAM-HOUSE for the Reception of Patients.” He lauds himself saying he has “never lost a Patient” and charges “Three Guineas and a Half; Servants Two Gineas and a Half.” He died in 1815 and was buried in St Lawrence Churchyard. Jane died in 1825 and was buried next to her husband.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition with some minor tack holes at the edges. It has been conservation mounted and is in a molded and black painted frame. A photo of the reverse (see below) taken prior to mounting is instructive as to technique and original color palette which is quite similar to the front.

Verso of sampler:

 

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