By Isabel Arthur (b. 1830)
Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, 1840. Wool on linen, 16 ½ by 24 inches. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, Gail-Oxford promised gift.
In her vividly colored sampler, Isabel Arthur not only stitched the names of her parents-William and Jane-but also included the name of her needlework instructor, Mary Tidball. Her work is part of a small group of samplers made in western Pennsylvania between 1836 and 1852. First identified by Ring in Girlhood Embroidery, they are characterized by highly stylized and disproportionately scaled images of flowers, trees, birds, and insects, and they typically include Tidball's name. While little is known about Tidball's life or training, recent research has located her school at the Bethel Presbyterian Church near Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, southwest of Pittsburgh.15