Sampler, Anna Buckett, Linen worked with silk thread; long-and-short, split, stem, back, tent, cross, and satin stiches, British


Anna Buckett
Linen worked with silk thread; long-and-short, split, stem, back, tent, cross, and satin stiches
H. 27 7/8 x W. 10 3/8 inches (70.8 x 26.4 cm); Framed: H. 30 3/4 x W. 12 1/4; D. 1 1/4 (78.1 x 31.1; 3.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964
Accession Number:
Not on view
Band samplers comprise neatly worked rows of patterns suitable for repeating motifs or figural motifs on the long narrow strip of linen canvas. This is the most common type of extant seventeenth-century sampler, and its standard format was established by about 1630. The foundation was generally cut from one complete width of plain-weave linen, so that the selvages are present at what becomes the top and bottom of the finished work, and the sides are hemmed. Polychrome band samplers are typical, although some band samplers combined rows of whitework, cutwork, and needle lace with the polychrome patterns (see MMA, 57.122.368). A band sampler such as this would have most likely been a task completed by a schoolgirl under the supervision of an embroidery instructor of some kind. In fact, a band sampler was usually the first piece worked by a budding embroiderer beginning at about age seven or eight. The complete embroidered works by Martha Edlin, the only extant group of a young girl’s educational work, now housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, begins with a band sampler as her earliest accomplishment.

This example, signed by Anna Bucket, introduces the band sampler into the realm of the decorative by adding an image of a courting couple at the top of the sampler. With its precise date and the name of the maker placed prominently, above the cupid who hovers between the couple, the maker may have been referring explicitly to her actual or hoped-for marriage. The couple is accompanied by a dog, symbol of fidelity in marriage, and surrounded by the heraldic unicorn and lion. The image is a miniature version of the numerous pictures of courting couples in which the man and woman stand on variegated green and yellow grass; in addition to the animals, the scene is embellished with fruiting trees, flowers, and insects completely out of scale to their human companions. This type of sampler may have been displayed in the home, as became common practice in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Contemporary evidence of this practice can be found in the criminal proceedings of the Old Bailey: in December of 1750 a man was convicted for stealing, among other things, "one needle-work sampler, with a frame and glass."

[Emily Zilber, adapted from English Embroidery from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580-1700: 'Twixt Art and Nature / Andrew Morrall and Melinda Watt ; New Haven ; London : Published for The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York [by] Yale University Press, 2008.]
Inscription: Ann+Buckett+Ivly+12+Anno+Domine-1656+
W. Sanders Fiske (until 1937; his sale, Sotheby's, London, November 19, 1937, lot 212); Irwin Untermyer (by 1960–64; to MMA)