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A central oval frame contains a scene of a woman facing a tree, the branches of which break out of the frame. The border is made up of squares containing motifs symmetrically arranged: grape vines, oak branches with acorns, birds in flowering trees, baskets of flowers, ducks in ponds, roses. The center square at the bottom contains the inscription:Mary Hamilton a Daughter of John and Catherine Hamilton was born in County Antrim February the 1 in the year of our Lord 1794 and made this Sampler in Maytown in Miss Welchens School in the year of our Lord 1812

Details

  • Title: Sampler
  • Creator: Mary Hamilton, American
  • Date Created: 1812
  • Type: Sampler
  • Rights: Bequest of Emily Coe Stowell from the Coe Collection
  • Medium: Medium: silk and metal thread embroidery on linen foundation Technique: embroidered in satin, cross, running, stem, and rococo stitches with figure eight looping on plain weave foundation
  • Viewing Notes: This sampler was worked in 1812 by Mary Hamilton at the Maytown, Pennsylvania, school of Catherine Welshans (who became Catherine Welshans Buchanan after her 1813 marriage). The central scene depicts a woman, fashionably attired in a feathered headdress, standing beneath a tree. The border is made up of compartmentalized motifs, including baskets of flowers, flowering sprigs, grape vines, birds in trees, and an inscription. A related sampler in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt – also featuring a pastoral scene and a border of decorative motifs enclosed in squares – was worked at Mrs. Buchanan’s Wrightsville school in 1819 by Mary Fitz (1807–1849). The same image of a bird, perched on a branch and looking over its shoulder, is found in the border of both samplers. Catherine Welshans Buchanan (1792–1852) taught in Maytown, Wrightsville, and Marietta. Samplers worked under her instruction are very similar those made at the Lancaster and Harrisburg schools of Leah Galligher Maguire (1764–1830). Elements found on samplers from the Buchanan school, such as pastoral scenes, compartmentalized decoration, and the use of human hair and metallic thread, appear to have originated at the Maguire school. Catherine was evidently influenced by Leah’s sampler patterns, and may have even studied at her Harrisburg school.Born in 1794, Mary Hamilton was the daughter of John and Catherine Hamilton. At eighteen years of age, she was older than the majority of early nineteenth-century sampler makers. Mary’s sampler states that she was born in County Antrim. Her family may have been from Antrim Township in Franklin County, Pennsylvania; however, it is also possible that they emigrated from Antrim County, Ireland. During the early 1700s, many Scottish-Irish left Ireland in search of religious freedom. Many settled in the Maytown area, where they founded the Donegal Presbyterian Church – still in existence today – on the outskirts of the town in 1721.
  • Provenance: By 1941, Mrs. Henry E. Coe (Eva Johnston Coe)1941 - 1970, Emily Coe Stowell1970, Cooper-Hewitt Museum
  • Inscribed: Mary Hamilton a Daughter of John and Catherine Hamilton was born in County Antrim February the 1 in the year of our Lord 1794 and made this Sampler in Maytown in Miss Welchens School in the year of our Lord 1812
  • Dimensions: H x W: 44.5 x 41.9 cm (17 1/2 x 16 1/2 in.)
  • Bibliography: Betty Ring, Girlhood Embroidery: American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework 1650- 1850 Vol. 2 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993) 423, fig. 469.Ethel Stanwood Bolton and Eva Johnston Coe, American Samplers (Boston: The Massachusetts Society of the Colonial Dames of America, 1921) 167, Plate XLVII.

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