Collecting American samplers in Southern California


By Lydia Stockton (1793-1864)

Burlington County, New Jersey, 1804. Silk and painted paper on linen, 16 ½ inches square. Collection of Katharine Pease.

This richly detailed pictorial sampler is part of a small group produced in 1804 by girls at a Society of Friends school in Burlington County, New Jersey.17 With their elegant mansions and well-stocked lawns and gardens, these samplers convey a sense of agrarian prosperity and worldly abundance. According to needlework scholars Leslie and Peter Warwick, the seven works in the group share many of the following elements: a young lady with a painted paper face and bonnet seated on a horse and accompanied by her dog; a centrally placed two- or three-story house with numerous windows and brown or green shutters; groups of two to four cedar trees flanking the house, in front of a long stone or brick wall; a variety of barnyard animals rambling on an enclosed lawn or in a lush landscape; and pots or baskets of flow­ers and fruit in the middle- or foreground. Typically, the composition is divided into three horizontal bands, with the needle­worker's name or initials stitched at the top along with the year in which the sampler was produced, and with sawtooth borders at the top and bottom.

Lydia, the daughter of Job Stockton (1766-1828) and Ann Ridgway (1771-1816), was about ten when she made this sampler. Her cousin Ann Stockton (1793-1828) studied at the same Quaker school and produced a remarkably similar sampler. The Warwicks have suggested Lydia Bullock as the possible teacher of the girls in this group.

by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton

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