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Sampler
3 December 1795
Embroiderer:Embroidered by Polly Ives , American, 1783 - 1855
Embroidery; silk threads on a plain-woven, undyed linen ground
Primary Dimensions (height x width): 12 1/2 x 10in. (31.8 x 25.4cm)
Credit Line: Connecticut Historical Society collection
Gallery Copy: Polly Ives embellished her sampler with emblems of both domestic and literary refinement: a Georgian mansion and a quotation from English poet Alexander Pope’s “Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady,” first published in 1717. Pope eulogized a woman who sacrificed herself for love, describing her suicide and solitary burial in foreign lands. Twelve-year-old Polly quoted one of the most popular passages, evoking the recurring cycle of Nature as a victory over death. The house resembles many elite Connecticut homes, with two stories, hipped roof, double chimneys, five-bay facade, double center door, and window and door cornices. Two flanking trees reinforce the symmetry, their curious, stiff limbs exactly balanced.
Description: Sampler worked in medium greens, dark brown, medium browns, gray, rust, medium blue, lavender, and cream silk threads on a plain-woven linen ground in cross and other stitches. The sampler is rectangular, oriented vertically. It is laid out with design of a two-story house with center door, four first-floor windows, five second floor windows, and two chimneys, which is flanked by two trees, over four rows of two alphabets and the numbers 1 through 17, over two inscriptions. The first inscription is "Yet shall thy grave with rising flowrs be drest/ And the green turf be lightly on thy breast/ There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow/ There the first roses of the years shall blow". The second inscription is "Polly Ives Her Sampler Wrought December. th. 3/ 1795 Aged 12 years was Born January 7. 1783". Certain lines of alphabets, numbers and text are separated by various narrow borders, including straight and meandering lines. There is a no border. The sampler has a 2/8-inch double-turned hem on the side edges. The top and bottom edges are raw. The sampler is not framed. Letters and Numbers: There are two alphabets, the numbers 1-6, and the numbers 7-17. The letters are uppercase block in alphabet 1 and lowercase block in alphabet 2. The letter J is present in the first alphabet; the letter U is present in the both alphabets. The embroiderer uses the long 's'. Stitches: The principal stitch on the sampler is cross stitch (over two threads); it is also worked in cross stitch (over one thread), herringbone, satin, and chain stitches. Condition: The sampler several holes, the largest being in the upper left corner. The hem at the right center is unstitched. The ground has darkened. The sampler has light to moderate fading. The sampler is not framed.
Verse Note: The verse on the sampler (see marks) is taken from a poem titled Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady (lines 63-66), written by the English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) and first published in 1717. (Hunt 9/20/2007)
Object Number: 1950.356.0
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