Sampler (Germany), 1834
Medium: cotton Technique: embroidered in satin, stem, knot, and back stitches with overcasting on plain weave foundation Label: cotton embroidered in satin, stem, knot, and back stitches with overcasting. Bequest of Gertrude M. Oppenheimer. 1981-28-277
What is this?
Marking sampler with two alphabets, crowns, crests, leafy branches and names in red on fine white cotton.
Why is this important?
Samplers are embroideries that showcase needlework skills. Sampler designs not only vary by date, but also by country and region. Like many other nineteenth century German samplers, this example was worked entirely in red thread on a cream-colored cotton ground. German samplers were among the first to include alphabets, and those from the nineteenth century often feature multiple versions, usually with one rendered in a Gothic script, as seen here. The maker’s delicate, naturalistic rendering of leafy wreaths and sprigs is also characteristic of samplers made in nineteenth-century Germany.
Although samplers were sometimes worked at home with a governess, this sampler was likely made at school. Many nineteenth-century German samplers of this style feature armorial crests that bear their school’s location and initials. “Dresden” and “O. P.” appear in the center of this example. The elaborate initials “H” and “E” on either side of the armorial may reference the maker’s instructor, and the scattered and sometimes repeating names that surround it could allude to the embroiderer’s classmates.