Some patterns seen here are sourced from traditional needlework repertoires, such as the imbricated scales and numerous flamepoint variations; others reflect prevailing decorative trends. Blocks of Chinese-inspired fretwork share space at top with a floral branch; directly below is a square of tartan. The
Illuminated Book of Needlework (1847), a Berlin work manual compiled by Mrs. Henry Owens, gives instructions for replicating these au courant Scottish designs: “These should be worked in Cross Stitch, and may be copied from ribbons, or the new Berlin Patterns of the various Clan Plaids, which are extremely elegant, and are very correct.” Mrs. Owens also published a pattern and advice for working Lace Stitch, citing that it is most beautifully executed “…in black Chantilly silk, both in Cross Stitch and in Straight Stitch, so as to arrive at a sort of dice pattern, and the edge is finished with wool in Cross Stitch.” Three such examples appear here at center, the delicacy of each enhanced with faceted steel beads and pearls. Lace Stitch was especially fashionable in the 1840s. Though the maker dabbled in beadwork and Gobelin, Irish, feather, oblong cross, and cushion stitches, the favored technique was cross stitch.
This impressive sampler was probably a demonstration piece made by an accomplished amateur seeking professional commissions. A glazed cloth-covered cardboard roll, finished with the same russet silk that binds the edges, allows the sampler to be rolled up and secured with ribbon ties for compact storage and easy portability. Comparable examples are found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (57.122.503) and the Victoria & Albert Museum (T.3331910); the latter, approximately ten feet long, has two Lace Stitch squares similar to those seen here.
49” H x 7.25” W