As part of their needlework training, one of the most practical skills at which a young woman could become proficient was darning, allowing her to extend the life of costly household textiles and clothing. To teach this skill, instructresses cut square holes in the ground fabric of samplers and required students to reproduce, via needle weaving, particular patterns to mend the area. Darning samplers are considered very desirable as they exhibit both refined techniques and stunning graphic qualities.
This darning sampler is a fine example and an impressive demonstration of the stitcher’s skill. As is often the case on Dutch samplers, the maker identified herself only with her initials, HM, worked into a fine cartouche in the center of the sampler. The date, ANNO 1801, appears in the corners of that square. Many complex and delicate patterns were created – geometric designs, hearts, flowers, chevrons. The maker also included a splendid white-on-white darn in the upper left corner, a bit hard to see because of the proficiency of the samplermaker. A fine drawn-work edge finishes the sampler on four sides.
Worked in silk on white linen, the sampler is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted into a figured maple frame with a gilt liner.