Mid-Atlantic States, United States, 1825
We are delighted to offer this exceptional and highly appealing sampler with its great many whimsical depictions. Foremost among these is that of a mermaid, very rarely seen on samplers of any origin. The oversized lady and gentleman, cat on the roof of the house, many birds, rooster, little owl, angels, and spiraling starfish all further the highly imaginative character of the sampler. Details such as the articulated fingers on the figures, including the mermaid and angel, and the long legs and claws of the birds add to the appeal while providing visual interest. The samplermaker’s attention to detail continued onto the clothing of the figures, the birds’ feathers and even the scales of the mermaid.
The border is notable as well; three sides present large flowers on circular curling vines very much in keeping with the exuberant composition of the sampler. The lower border is a very impressive technical display of 24 queen’s-stitch diamonds, large and small, providing a strong visual base for the scene of the house and figures.
Delicate blue stitches form the inscription, which reads,
“Mary hughes is my name and with my needle i work the same and this my frends you may have when i am dead and in my grave made in the yea of her age 1825.”
Mary’s specific identity is hard to pinpoint but we are grateful for the extraordinary and highly original sampler that she left for us to enjoy.
Worked in silk on linen, the sampler is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a maple and mahogany corner-block frame.