Embroidered by Charlotte Gardner American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 727

The Quakers were the first group who believed that female education should equal that of males, and that children of all classes and races should be educated. To this end, in the early years of the nineteenth century, Quaker women formed the New York Female Association in order to open free schools for children whose families lacked the means for private education. These schools became the seed from which New York City’s public school system grew. This example was made in 1813 by a twelve-year-old girl named Charlotte Gardner who attended the first Female Association school. According to the inscription, Charlotte made the sampler for Mary M[urry]. Perkins, a member of a prominent New York Quaker family and a patron of the school.

Charlotte’s sampler is among a small group of known Female Association samplers that date between 1813 and 1825. Reflecting the classical Quaker aesthetic, it features delicate precise lettering and finely stitched motifs – many of which are found on other Female Association samplers, as well as samplers from Quaker schools such as Westtown (See MMA 2005.20). These motifs include at the top a leafy green and gold vine border tied at the center with a bow-knot, two baskets with pyramids of fruit, an acorn beneath each basket, below which are sprigs of rose buds. At the lower edge, a broad stylized red strawberry and green vine border, often seen on New York City samplers from the 1810s and 20s, completes the design.

Sampler, Embroidered by Charlotte Gardner (born 1801), Silk embroidery on linen, American

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