Wednesday 10 February 2010

A French Sampler

It is not often enough that we see French samplers. Here is one worked by 12 year old Francoise Bertrand in the 19th century, which is currently being auctioned. Earlier French samplers from the 18th and 17th centuries are rarer still. One school of thought suggests that many were destroyed in the French Revolution, though many bourgeois and professional - as opposed to aristocratic - families survived the terrors and one would have imagined that some of their family samplers would have survived with them. Perhaps French girls of that time were set different tasks to their more northern European sisters. Many French landworkers turned their hand to embroidery in the quiet winter season to earn extra cash - the demand for embroidery was insatiable. A friend of mine collects antique French legal documents and has a wonderful divorce case from the 18th century in which profligate spending by the wife on embroidery from the country is cited as a main complaint. The divorce went through, but the wife was given alimony equivalent to the cost of a battleship!

It is interesting to note the similarity of the verse with the gorgeous Fanny Micou sampler featured in the Needleprint Perpetually Engaging Diary.
On this flimsy cloth artlessly created,
Read these words of loving gratitude.
Should time destroy them - laugh off its rage and look for them anew in the bottom of my heart.


  1. Interesting info. My historic sampler guild is studying samplers from different countries. Our next country that we will be starting in the spring is France. Can you suggest any samplers that have been reproduced and in print from France? Would love to have some to select from if possible.

  2. DMC created a series of 6 replica samplers sometime ago. There are a number of French books on samplers and French collections. See books by Catherine Pouchelon.

  3. "Profligate spending on embroidery"? Hmm, doesn't sound like grounds for divorce to me.

  4. Now if it were profligate spending on embroidery supplies I might be in trouble!