Friday 19 March 2010

Hooray - Foundling Museum Has Purchased the Sarah Quartermain Sampler

Art Daily announced this morning: the Art Fund today announces that London’s Foundling Museum has acquired a rare embroidered sampler made by a ten year-old girl in 1825. The sampler is the only known child’s depiction in any medium of the original Foundling Hospital, London’s first home for abandoned children, which was demolished in 1928. The girl who worked the sampler is believed to have had close family connections with the Foundling Hospital. Acquired at a Christie’s auction on Tuesday 9 March, the sampler cost a total of £10,000 of which £5,500 was contributed by The Art Fund. Generous contributions were also made by the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Worshipful Company of Weavers. The museum does not often make additions to its collections, making this acquisition particularly important. The Foundling Museum was established in 1998 by the childcare charity the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children (now known as Coram), which is the successor of the original Foundling Hospital. The sampler was created by ten-year old Sarah Ann Quartermain. Embroidered in fawn and green silks on a natural background with a floral border, the work depicts the Foundling Hospital as it looked in 1763. Experts at the Museum have tracked down records of an ‘S.A. Quarterman’, baptised at St Andrews in Holborn, a church which has links with the Foundling. It is believed that Sarah had a personal connection with the Foundling Hospital, given that topographical samplers of known buildings are unusual, and when they do occur, they usually directly relate to the child’s experiences. On hearing of the Christie’s sale, The Foundling Museum immediately applied to The Art Fund and MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund for funding. Stephen Deuchar, Director of The Art Fund, said: "The Art Fund is absolutely thrilled to have helped secure this beautiful sampler for the Museum, bringing to life a child’s vision of the Hospital as it appeared in the eighteenth century, and highlighting an important element of a girl’s education at the time.” Lars Tharp, Director of the Foundling Museum , said: “The Museum’s trustees are deeply grateful to The Art Fund and to the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund for allowing us to bid for this wonderful piece. This sampler is exceptional on many counts: it is the only known needlework depiction of the Foundling Hospital, home for “ London ’s exposed and deserted young children”, and the image itself is at once naive and sophisticated. While many young girls’ samplers of the period convey an air of austerity, compulsion, drudgery even, Sarah Ann’s “Foundling Hospital”, worked in simple cross-stitch seems to convey a simple sense of enjoying a scene familiar to the young seamstress.”


  1. Wouldn't it be lovely if they chose to chart it? I for one would be happy to pay money to be able to stitch a copy... what a wonderful, unique composition for such a young girl!

  2. WWhat a lovely piece of art!I would like to stitch it!!Love.Béa

  3. How wonderful that the Foundling museum is now in the posession of this historic sampler. I did wonder if they would go for it.

    Did you also see David Dimbelbey's Seven Ages on Britain, he talked about the founder and the museum in London.

  4. Thankyou for an update on how the auction turned out.I instantly fell in love with it when you posted about it before on your blog. Like the others,I would love to stitch this but would settle for a great print or note cards that could help raise money for the museum or the art grants that help to secure sampler's such as these for others to enjoy and see through the museum. Someday I would love to go to the Foundling museum to see the sampler since I live in Iowa in the United States of America.