I’m not usually a sampler fan (you know this is not an area in which I shine), but I have learned a lot more about samplers through work than I ever expected to. And what do you know? Some of it stuck!
I thought I would pass along some helpful resources for sampler fans. Last year, one of the (if not THE) premier sampler collections was sold at auction by Sotheby’s. Through the magic of the interwebs, you can see the catalog online:
Even I say “Yum!” to all those pictures. I like color and texture, but sometimes samplers make me feel like all the air has been sucked out of the room. Walker Evans has the same effect. But when you look at them like this–or arrayed on a worktable–they turn into pictures, and those I enjoy. You page through the catalog and see what Betty Ring had, and whimper a little about these going in to private and not public hands. I know we whimpered…how I covet a green-background sampler!
But wait–there’s more! Be sure to check out American Needlework Treasures, and Girlhood Embroidery Volumes I & Volume II which are available as full-text PDFs with images. In Girlhood Embroidery, you can read more about the Mary Balch School.
If you like samplers, and want to learn more or support sampler work, visit The Sampler Consortium website. You can become a lifetime member free of charge, and enjoy email updates with sampler news. The Consortium is connected to The Sampler Archive Project, which is funded by the NEH. We’re pleased to be part of the SAP’s first phase, and I am pleased to have learned so much just by cataloging.