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Silk on linen
overall: 22 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.; 57.785 x 50.165 cm
Special Acquisitions Fund
Needlework sampler stitched over two threads on 40-count bleached linen. The outer border is a cross-stitch floral vine. The vine and leaves are in two shades of green, rosebuds are in peach and petalled flowers are cream with peach centers. At top center below the vine are three "J"s cross-stitched in black (probably added later). At the top center is a five-line verse cross-stitched in brown, "And in the fourth year was the foundation of the house / of the Lord laid. So Solomon built the house and finished / it in the eleventh year in the eight/ month was the house / finished throughout all the parts thereof and according / to all the fashion of it, So was he seven years in building it." The next row is a cross-stitched floral vine with vine and leaves in two shades of green and cream and flowers in peach, cream and brown. The next row has a butterfly at each end in brown, green, lavender, cream and tan, with four birds in between. The birds are brown and hold cream leaves in their beaks. Next is a depiction of Solomon's Temple in cream with brown windows and crosses all along the top. The temple building has a wall. At each side of the temple is a flowering plant in a basket cross-stitched in cream. Below the temple at the center is a green walkway. On each side of the walkway is stylized border in lavender and tan. The next row is stitched in brown cross-stitch with an ocean wave motif at each side and text in the middle, "A Representation of Solomon's Temple." The next row has a floral vine with brown cross-stitched text in the middle, "Mary Sandiford Aged 9 1840." The vine is green and continues above the name. At each side are three lavender flowers with leaves in two shades of green. A blue thread woven into the selvage of the fabric on the left is visible. The sampler appears to have been framed in a smaller frame at some point; the linen is discolored along the edges with holes at top and bottom right where the corners of the mount would have been.
In the 1700s and 1800s, young girls were taught how to sew as preparation for their future lives as homemakers. Girls whose parents could afford it sent their daughters to schools where they could study languages, music or fancy needle-working skills. Samplers such as this one testified to both a young student’s stitching abilities and her knowledge of Biblical history. Families and makers saved and displayed them as evidence of the girls’ accomplishment.