Sophia De La Rue Champion,

Sophia De La Rue Champion,

St. Peter Port, Guernsey,
Channel Islands, 1825

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sampler size: 23¼” x 24¼” • framed size: 26” x 27” • sold

A small group of large and beautifully designed samplers comes out of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. They feature impressive, well-organized compositions and displays of pattern and motifs – specifically the cornucopia of flowers and leaves on thorny stems, suns with pointy rays, recumbent deer, peacocks, butterflies, pots of flowers and baskets of fruit. Sophia De La Rue Champion was only nine years old when she made this sampler, as she stitched it was “done in her tenth year,” and it is one of the finest of the known Channel Island samplers. The border is particularly fine, a tight design of double vines, leaves and blossoms that provides a stunning framework for the sampler on four sides. An accomplished instructress was obviously working in Guernsey in the early years of the 19th century.

The population of the islands was historically French, in fact the official language of Guernsey was French, and much of the population was as well. The daughter of Jean and Rachel (De La Rue) Champion, Sophia was born on August 3, 1816 in St. Peter Port, the capital and primary port city, on the island’s eastern side; it is a charming town of buildings climbing up steep cobblestone streets.

Research into the family of Sophia’s mother revealed a great deal of interesting information. Her uncle, Thomas De La Rue (1793-1866), was a man of enormous achievements, a very successful printer, businessman and inventor, who founded De La Rue PLC in 1813. This company, based in England with employees in 25 countries currently, has become the world’s largest commercial security printer and papermaker. The company, De La Rue, is recognized for many inventions, advancements and patents in the printing, postal stamp, passport and banknote world, from the manufacturing of the modern playing cards in 1813 to the installation of the world’s first through-the-wall ATM for Barclay’s Bank in 1967. One of Thomas’ sons, was Sophie’s first cousin Warren De La Rue (1815-1889), a famous British astronomer, inventor and astronomical photographer.

In 1845, Sophia married Abraham Olivier Le Huray (1822-1900) and they had six children; the family remained in St Peter Port throughout their lives. Abraham was listed in various census records as a Surveyor for His Majesty’s Customs.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a black molded and painted frame. 

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