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Stephen & Carol Huber: 17th - 19th Century Needlework

needlework sampler Huber 380-3

LOT 280-3 (description taken from Sotheby's catalogue)


Sampler by Mary Ann Goodrich, Wethershield, Connecticut, dated 1816, worked in silk, twisted silk threads and crinkled silk floss with paper, on linen in satin, couched satin, outline and cross-stitches. Inscribed: William Goodrich.....born july...17....1776/Mary Stoddard.....born Nov. 11....1778/Married......Dec..7....1803/ Mary Ann Goodrich.....Aged...10.yrs...1816/ [By another hand]: Mary Ann Goodrich......Died..March.17.1828. 11 1/2  by 20 inches. (22 threads to the inch).

Sothby's estimate: $8,750 - $11,500 (for lots 280-1, 2, 3) combined with 25% buyer's premium added)

Sold (SPECIAL SALES PRICE - no buyers premium)
(for sampler 280-3 only, pictured above)

(To purchase call 860-388-6809)

Catalogue Note:

By 1816, Wethersfield, one of the earliest settlements in Connecticut, was a thriving, prosperous town along a triangular stretch of the Connecticut River. A yellow-painted meeting house graced the town with a fine, high steeple, and pleasant houses, with carefully tended gardens, lined each thoroughfare. The young girls of the neighborhood were instructed in the art of embroidery by an unidentified schoolmistress of exceptional ability. Her school was probably near the juncture of Sandy Lane and High Street, for a landownership map of the town, c. 1850, inscribed with surnames of the samplermakers indicates that many of them lived in this area.1 Several similar pictorial samplers, dating from between 1804 and 1827, help to document that the school existed for at least twenty-three years.2 The sampler stitched by Mary Ann Goodrich is typical of this group, for it has been worked in the same format. A swag of flowers, draped like a lambrequin, spreads across the top of the linen and is characteristically caught in the center by a ribboned bow. Almost without exception, related embroideries depict similar buildings in a picturesque setting, often giving prominence to a wide rift of the Connecticut River, so vital to the town. The foreground of Mary Ann's splendid embroidery pictures fishermen in their miniature boats afloat on the silken water, while in the distance the spired meeting house and the town take shape. A white silk house, with green-tinted windows and a roof worked in satin stitches the color of tarnished copper, is prominently displayed. As with at least half a dozen other family registers, a popular form of sampler embroidery in this Connecticut school between 1816 and 1821, Mary's sampler is lavishly adorned with the familiar garland of blossoms, leaves, and bowknots. 3 Samplers from this region fall into two distinct categories. The earlier pieces are embellished with a thin, narrow loop of flowers, caught by a bouquet at center top, with no discernible ribbon or bow. Those of a later period, such as that worked by Mary Ann, reveal a more extravagant design. Probably influenced by the delicately -elegant silk embroideries worked in nearby Hartford at the Misses Pattens' painting and embroidery school-which may be recognized by their heavy, gold-corded eagle, sequined bows, and lavishly draped blossoms-the full flowered, ribbon-tied garland made its appearance in Wethersfield, along with the characteristic townscapes that lend such captivating charm to the needlework.4 Such an abrupt change in format and composition is usually indicative of a change in instruction. In this instance, it would suggest that a different schoolmistress, perhaps in the same school, added a flair of her own to an already established regional needlework pattern. Because the surviving samplers are so similar to those attributed to the well-attended Patten school, where over four thousand students were educated over a span of forty years,5 it is reasonable to assume that Mary Ann's schoolmistress received her education there. While the linen samplers lack the excessive decoration of the silk embroideries, there is unquestionably a relationship between these two schools of embroidery. Mary Ann's genealogical sampler was additionally inscribed by at least two needleworkers. One was probably Mary Stoddard Goodrich, her mother, who on three separate occasions embroidered in the black silk threads of mourning the dates of death for Mary Ann; her husband, William; and her only son, William Wells Goodrich. The later inscriptions, handwritten in ink on slips of paper, were inserted following the established pattern sometime after 1856, when Mary Stoddard Goodrich died at the age of eighty. As inscribed on the sampler, Mary Ann Goodrich died on March 17, 1828, at the age of twenty-two.

1. Peter Benes, Two Towns, Concord and Wethersfield: a Comparative Exhibition of Regional Culture 1635-1850, vol. 1 (Concord, MA: Concord Antiquarian Museum, 1982),6,7,128.

2. The sampler worked by Hope Mosely (private collection; see ibid., 90) is dated 1804, and the mourning sampler worked by Sarah Roberts Weeks (private collection; see ibid., 162) bears an 1827 date. Weeks, who married in 1829, has inscribed one part of the monument on her embroidery with the date of birth and death of her son, Charles Weeks Wiers, obviously a later addition.

3. Benes, Two Towns, 90, 91, 92, 153.

4. Ring, American Needlework Treasures, 80, 81. See also Suzanne L. Flynt, Ornamental and Useful Accomplishments: Schoolgirl Education and Deerfield Academy 1800-1830 (Deerfield, MA: Memorial Hall Museum, 1988), 18, 19, 24. Suzanne Flynt theorizes that Deerfield Academy instructress Jerusha Williams, who attended the Patten school in Hartford as a young woman, taught her students the identical eagle and garland motifs, using the same corded-gilt threads and sequins so closely identified with the Patten school. It seems unreasonable to suggest that Williams would not have changed the patterns slightly or added some of her own creativity, given the opportunity (pp.17, 22). Ruth, Sarah, and Mary Patten kept a school in Hartford from 1785 until 1825.The elegant silk embroideries attributed to their instruction are today highly prized by collectors of antique needlework.

5. Elisabeth Donaghy Garrett, "American Samplers and Needlework Pictures in the DAR Museum, Part 1: 1739-1806," Antiques (February 1974): 82.

Mary Ann Goodrich- Estelle Horowitz, September, 1985

Exhibited and Literature: LACMA, Mary Ann Goodrich, pp. 89-90, fig. 37.

(860) 388-6809


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