Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Curiouser and Curiouser

One thing is certain - the more you look at samplers, the more samplers you see, the more questions there are! When we looked at samplers a few at a time, which was all we could do when they were far flung and hidden in museums - and somehow had to keep them all in memory, because in those days there were few postcards of them to be had - then our experience was episodic and disjointed. A bit like seeing jigsaw puzzle pieces two or three at a time, but in far-flung locations. Then it seemed that there were many unique designs. When first I saw this piece in the Feller Collection, I gawped. I had seen nothing at all like it from the 17th century. That serpent entwined portico had to be a one-off - not to mention the motely assortment of other motifs. I judged the piece to be some sort of outlier - not part of the regular population of pieces stitched at this time. Only a few months went by and I was proved quite wrong.

Another similar piece existed. This one above was for sale through Meg Andrews - on of my favourite textile dealers. Though the motifs had been removed from their original ground and appliqued on a different ground, there was the same portico, the same huntsman with his hound and the same frog.
And then today, I saw this. It is for sale at Christies on 19 June 2012 with an estimate of £5,000-£10,000. Yet another exemplar! This one shares many elements with the one in the Feller Collection - notice the mermaid in the oval vignette in both. So what is this about? Where have the motifs come from? And why as a group are they so distinct from the panels stitched in this period? And what is the significance of the woman and child in that extraordinary building?

1 comment:

  1. Were there 'ghost stitchers' or finishers in the 17th century? These pieces almost feel like sales samples - a picture for a girl or other embroiderer to choose from. Could these be the works of governesses or teachers?