Hannah Hartshorne,

Hannah Hartshorne,

Marsh School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,1793

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sampler size: 14” x 12½” • framed size: 16” x 14½" • sold

Hannah Hartshorne’s 1793 sampler, made at the school of Ann Marsh of Philadelphia, is an outstanding example, both technically and aesthetically. Marsh school samplers, made by the daughters of prominent Quaker families from Philadelphia and its immediate areas, have been long revered by curators, scholars, and collectors. Betty Ring, in Girlhood Embroidery: American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework 1650 – 1850 (Knopf 1993), notes Ann Marsh, and her mother, Elizabeth Marsh, to be the most important of all American instructresses. The Marsh school samplers are much discussed in the section entitled “Philadelphia’s Opulent Embroidery.”

Another Marsh school sampler in the collection of Winterthur Museum closely resembles the Hartshorne sampler. That sampler was made by Hannah Cooper in 1791 and we are well familiar with it, having sold it to Winterthur in 1987. Characteristics shared by both samplers include the large center oval surrounded by an undulating leafy vine, graceful garlands of flowers formed in tent, satin and bullion stitches, and the same minutely stitched verse, “The Wish.” The linen favored by Ann Marsh was a fine, gauze-like linen and her students perfected their skills in the needle arts.

The verse that both Hannah Hartshorne and Hannah Cooper used is an interesting one. It was published in a volume entitled, A Commonplace Book from Revolutionary America, by Milcah Martha Moore (1740-1829), a Quaker lady who was an important figure in the literary world of Philadelphia. Scholars consider this collection of poetry and prose by various authors, mostly women and many Friends, to be integral to the understanding of the nature of women’s intellectual and cultural community of the period.

Hannah Hartshorne was born on August 15, 1781 to Pattison Hartshorne (1745-1828) and Susanna (Waln 1755-1828) Hartshorne. Her parents were married at the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting in 1776 and remained active the Quaker community. Included in the Hartshorne family ancestry is Richard Hartshorne (1641-1722) a devout Quaker and one of the prominent leaders of southern New Jersey. The Waln family, also Quaker, included many of Philadelphia’s most successful merchants and civic-minded leaders from the 17th through 19th centuries. Colonial Families of Philadelphia, Vol I, (The Lewis Publishing Company, 1911) publishes much information about the families including specifics such as that they left the city for the “yellow-fever summer of 1793.” Sadly, Hannah died on June 24, 1795, two years after she made this sampler.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen gauze and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in its fine original frame and, remarkably, is accompanied by the original backboard.

 

 

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