Margaret Gray, United Kingdom, 1797

Margaret Gray, United Kingdom, 1797

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sampler size: 12” x 8½” • framed size: 15” x 11½” • price: sold

Various types of darning samplers were made in the 18th and early 19th centuries, primarily in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. We have known of several samplers in which the makers employed techniques often called pattern darning or pulled threadwork; their samplers present a wonderful and graphic series of squares displaying techniques that are not usually seen on needlework, as these samplers are rare. The girls were learning to duplicate intricate designs that they would use on valuable household fabrics and clothing in need of darns and repairs. These skills would hold them in good stead later in their lives. Margaret Gray’s sampler, dated 1797, is likely Scottish as it greatly resembles two examples that are currently included in the excellent exhibition, Embroidered Stories: Scottish Samplers at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. These two samplers, one made circa 1750 and one dated 1821, along with this by Margaret Gray, are an indication of the outstanding displays of darning needlework accomplished by young schoolgirls throughout many decades.

A photo of the reverse of the sampler taken prior to mounting is instructive as to the technique. Worked in silk on linen, the sampler is in excellent condition with some very slight running near the bottom and it’s likely that the bottom two squares are partially unfinished. It has been conservation mounted and is in a fine, early 19th century maple frame.

image of reverse of sampler

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