Mary Underhill, New York, 1836

Mary Underhill, New York, 1836

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sampler size: 17½” x 16¼” • framed size: 21½” x 20¼” • price: $4300

There is a delightful group of Quaker samplers made in New York – some were made in the city of New York and some in nearby towns and boroughs. The chapters in Betty Ring’s Girlhood Embroidery American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework 1650-1850 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1993) entitled Quaker Samplers in America andNeedlework of New York illustrate many of these samplers. A number of these were made at schools associated with Friends Meetings in New York and they exhibit the aesthetically appealing and shared characteristics of Quaker samplers: balanced compositions of flower branches, acorns and fruit baskets flanking precisely worked, Roman font poems and quotations, with sections of horizontal bands and bowers. Signed, “Mary Underhill N. York 1836,” this is an excellent example; the composition is very appealing, the needlework is letter-perfect, and the sampler retains its original color.

The Underhill family has a long and illustrious history in New York. Capt. John Underhill (1597-1672) was born in Staffordshire, England and, along with his parents, removed to Holland; with his young wife, then emigrated to America in 1630. The family was amongst the earliest settlers of Flushing, New York, documented by Quaker records, as well as the Underhill Genealogy, edited by Josephine C. Frost (published privately by The Underhill Society of America, 1932).

Mary entitled her sampler, “Industry” and chose, for one of her verse selections, part of a poem that was authored by Isaac Watts (1675-1750). The second verse is less well known but equally apt.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition; see below for a photo of the back of the sampler taken prior to mounting. It has been conservation mounted and is in a figured maple frame with a cherry bead.

(image of the reverse)

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