Mary Ann Harrison,

Mary Ann Harrison,

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1806

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sampler size: 21” x 18” • framed size: 21” x 25½” • sold

In Girlhood Embroidery, vol. II, Betty Ring discusses an exemplary group of samplers that offers strong appeal. In the section entitled, “Philadelphia in the Federal Period,” Mrs. Ring presents these samplers, which were made in the last years of the 18th century and very beginning of the 19th century. They feature large, sweeping lawns populated with sheep, a detailed house, delineated fences and gates, large willow trees and couples – some occasionally wearing plumed hats. Mary Ann Harrison’s sampler is a splendid example. She included an unusual verse excerpted from a poem by Oliver Goldsmith, published in The Vicar of Wakefield; these lines have long been quoted as a moral stance by vegetarians.

The daughter of Francis Harrison (1765-1820) and Catherine (McLean) Harrison (1776-1861), Mary Ann Harrison was born in 1793. Francis was born in England and family legend has it he sailed to America at age 12, to aid the struggle for independence. He was secreted on a ship that carried General Lafayette and Admiral DeGrasse, who knew his father. Frances served in the War of 1812 as a gunner on a gun boat, along with his eldest son, Thomas. Catherine’s family was from Ireland, where her father, Laughlin McClean had been attached to the English Embassy.

In 1814, Mary Ann married Capt John Baker (1787-1863); he was born in England and was a sea captain. They had at least seven children. Mary died in 1858 and is buried in Philadelphia; John died in 1863 and is buried in Charleston, South Carolina. The sampler remained in the family until the 1990’s and is accompanied by much family information. Portraits painted circa 1840 of Mary Ann and her husband are on this genealogy site and here.

Worked in silk on linen, it is in excellent condition with a minor area of loss to the linen in the upper left corner. It has been conservation mounted and is in a molded cherry frame.


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