Anna Greenleaf Johnson,

Anna Greenleaf Johnson,

 Newburyport, Massachusetts, 1789

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sampler size: 21½” x 16” • framed size: 24¾” x 19” • sold

The format, design and motifs of this excellent sampler are highly recognizable and place it in a group of important pieces from Newbury and Newburyport, Massachusetts, dating from the 18th century to the very early 19th century. The specific designs include these fruit trees, the two-handled blue vase, hillocks, backward-looking birds, bugs, dogs and sheep. Anna Greenleaf Johnson sampler, made in 1789, is certainly an excellent example. Further information regarding this group can be found in volume one of Betty Ring’s Girlhood Embroidery (Knopf, 1993) beginning on page 114. Anna’s stitches include French knot, satin, whipped, flat, seed and queen’s-stitch, all of which are faultlessly rendered. The silk and crinkled silk threads are augmented by metallic threads used for the wonderful detail of the dog’s collar. The sampler is inscribed, “Anna Greenleaf Johnson was born March 18, 1780 work this sampler 1789” in beige silk floss above the pictorial scene.

Anna’s parents were Captain Nicholas Johnson (1752-1825) and Mary (Perkins) Johnson (1755-1829). She was named for her maternal grandmother, Anna Greenleaf Perkins (1727-1762). Nicholas counted among his accomplishments the fact that the ship he commanded during the revolutionary war, the Count de Grasse, was the first vessel to hoist the American flag in the Thames River at the close of the war. He was a highly successful merchant and shipper, selectman of the town, Proprietor of the Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River, founder of the Merrimack Humane Society and a master of the Newburyport Marine Society.

The Johnson family’s large, brick house still stands at the corner of Federal and Milk Streets in Newburyport and is noted for its architectural significance. Interesting to note is the fact that an important sampler made by Anna’s younger sister Sally, in 1799, is in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum and illustrated in Betty Ring’s book as well as Old-Town and the Waterside (Historical Society of Old Newbury, 1986).

Anna married Ebenezer Dole on October 19, 1809 and died shortly after that, on June 8,1810; she is buried in Highland Cemetery in Newburyport.

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



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