Sister Samplers,

Sister Samplers,

Clamentina Batlle, 1822 & Geltrudis Batlle, 1823,
Montevideo, Uruguay

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Clamentina’s sampler size: 17.5” square, framed size: 19.5” square • Geltrudis’s sampler size: 17.5” x 18”, framed size: 19.5” x 20” • sold

Schoolgirls samplers made in Spain and its colonies form a group that offers enormous appeal. Distinct composition and characteristic motifs combine with fine craftmanship, and, because the makers often signed their samplers in the Spanish tradition of using the family names of both their father and mother, the samplermakers are frequently identifiable. These two splendid samplers were made in 1822 and 1823 by sisters from one of the most important families of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay.

The samplers are replete with classic motifs, some of which have origins in centuries-old European needlework design, and each sampler is worked in the four-sided format favored by Spanish teachers. The alphabets are without the letter “W”, another distinctive Spanish characteristic. That these samplers have remained together for almost two centuries is quite fortunate.

Clementina Batlle y Grau and Gertrudis Batlle y Grau were the daughters of Jose Batlle y Carreo (1773-1854) and Gertrudis Grau y Font (1774-1823), who were born in Sitges, Catalonia, Spain and emigrated to Montevideo, Uruguay in 1800. Jose Batlle y Carreo was a wealthy merchant with deep ties to the Spanish crown. The family became one of the leading families of Uruguay producing presidents, statemen, military leaders and journalists. Notably, one of their sons, a brother of the samplermakers, Lorenzo Batlle y Grau (1819-1887), was elected President of Uruguay and served in that position from 1868 to 1872. This initiated a political dynasty that spanned 150 years and included five Presidents of Uruguay, including his own son, José Batlle y Ordóñez, who is considered “the father of modern Uruguay.” Subsequent generations included Luis Batlle Beres and Jorge Batlle Ibañez who served as Presidents respectively from 1947-1951 and 2000-2005.

The status of this family in the early 19th century is evident on the samplers as both samplermakers used the honorific “Dona” in their inscriptions. Clementina was born on November 21, 1814. She made this sampler when she was eight years old, perhaps even seven depending on what month of 1822 the sampler was made. Clementina married Ruperto Manuel de Lenguas. They seem not to have had children and she died in 1858, at age 43.

Gertrudis’s precise year of birth is not clear. In 1848 she married a Swedish doctor, Dr. Frans Johan Ludvig Michaelsson (1815-1860); Uruguayan records refer to him as Luis Franciso José Michaelson. They had five children and Gertrudis died in 1888. While the family seems to have lived in Stockholm for some years, both she and her husband are buried in Montevideo. In that Clementina didn’t have children, it’s likely that her sampler was given to Gertrudis and thus the two samplers descended together.

Both samplers are worked in silk on linen and are in excellent condition. They have been conservation mounted and are in molded and black painted frames.

(image of the reverse of Gertrudis's sampler)

(image of the reverse of Clamentina's sampler)

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