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The Invisible World

Shelter from the Storm

Sampler Zoomify

Image title: Sampler
Image credit: Gift of Margaret May

The human desire to be protected from danger is expressed in many different ways. The practice of looking to a protective deity exists in all religions. In the Christian tradition, the deity often takes the form of a shepherd. The portrayal of Jesus Christ as a shepherd guarding a flock comes from the Book of John in the New Testament and is a popular metaphor in Western iconography.

About the Object

Object name: Sampler
Place made: Frankford, Pennsylvania
Date made: 1806
Dimensions: 43 x 33 cm
Materials & Techniques: Linen, woven and embroidered with silk
Credit line: Gift of Margaret May
ID: T99.6.1

The symbolism of Jesus as a shepherd comes from the New Testament. On this American Quaker sampler, a young girl is portrayed as a shepherd in a garden of peaceful creatures with a bower sheltering a table and chair nearby. The text is a popular saying to embroider on a sampler.

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Oblique

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Macro

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Animation

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Audio Clip

Quaker Hymn

Listen to John Cowling singing the traditional American Quaker hymn arranged by John Sheldon, “How Can I Keep From Singing”

Credit: Audio produced by TMC

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Transcript

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation;
I hear the real though far off song
That hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear that music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul,
How can I keep from singing?

Image

The Quakers

The English religious group known as Quakers escaped persecution from England in the 17th century by moving to North America. A large number settled in Pennsylvania. They were known for their progressive attitude toward girls’ education. Samplers made by Quaker girls in the 19th century, including this one, tend to feature a vine-and-leaf motif and distinctive blocky letters. Landscapes with trees and flowers along the bottom of the sampler were also popular, with birds and animals scattered above. Although the pious verse and the metaphor of the male shepherd are apparent on many samplers, a young female maker pictured a girl watching over her sprightly flock, perhaps in her own likeness.

Quaker Meeting

The Quakers

Image title: Quaker Meeting
Description: Quaker meeting in London, engraving by Bernard Picard, c.1723

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Artifact Narrative

The Sampler

Since the Renaissance period (14th-16th century), young Western girls were taught to embroider household linens. They started their needlework careers with a sampler. At first, samplers were made for the purpose of testing stitches, but by the 19th century they had become strictly ornamental and were rarely made by grown women. Some feature rather morose slogans such as “We all do fade as a leaf,” as on the sampler shown here, worked by eight-year-old Anne Buxton in 1850. This sampler, from England, shows more technical perfection but less design initiative than the American sampler by Euphemia Playter.

Sampler

Sampler

Place made: Nottingham, England
Date made: 1850
Dimensions: 29.5 x 24 cm
Materials & Techniques: Linen, woven and embroidered with wool yarn and silk floss
Credits: Gift of Tena Van Andel
ID: T95.0287

Collection Connections

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