Margaret Mason

Samplers of the 17th century are recognized as being some of the finest examples of this needle-art form in existence. An exquisite combination of Renaissance-influenced, intricate pattern bands, with a wide variety of stitches, and subtle shadings of color, resulted in a group of distinguished needleworks that were made by adult and younger women alike. Before the sampler was confined to the schoolroom and turned into a rote exercise of practicing alphabets, as transpired through the 19th century, it reigned as the supreme example of the needle's Excellency - hence the derivation of the name itself, from the Latin exemplar: the best and finest example of a woman's needlework, the thing to aspire toward. Margret Mason's sampler of 1660 demonstrates traditional pattern bands, with some novel twists. Architectural devices are rarely, if ever, seen on such early samplers, yet alongside her intensely decorated floral and fruit bands we find a large castle complete with crenellated keep and mullioned windows, with a path leading to a brick walled knot garden. The boxer motifs found at the top derive, some believe, from Italian Renaissance embroidery patterns. The term boxer refers to their pugilistic stance; however historically they could represent a lover presenting a trophy, or a gift, to the loved one. Margret Mason's boxers are dressed in Cavalier fashion. Above them, the Stuart S motifs could indicate her loyalty to the then-king, James II, although this motif could also have been employed without the stitcher having any particular political convictions, as it is not uncommon on samplers of the mid to late 17th century.

Origin and date: English 1660
Rated: Very Advanced
Linen count and finished size: 35-count/7" x 24"
Stitches: cross, backstitch, double running, tent, stem, Montenegrin cross stitch, French knots, Algerian eyelet, chain, and satin.
Source: Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England

Kit with cotton floss: $70.00
Kit with silk floss: $135.00
Graph only: $18.00
Finished Model: $1100.00