Friday, January 20, 2012

American Schoolgirl Embroideries

I had a chance to go today to a fantastic exhibit of embroidery done by young women during the late 1700s and early 1800s at Sotheby's in Manhattan.  I was invited to see the exhibit by by friend Tania, who's very knowledgeable on the subject (and who would have known just how much there is to know about the art of embroidery in American history!!) and I was extremely impressed. The pieces that are up for auction had been collected by Betty Ring, who's apparently one of the best-known and respected collectors of this type of embroidery. 
I came away from the exhibit with a new appreciation for embroidery, which is something I've never tried. The stitches were so tiny, and many of the gorgeous pieces on display had been created by children who were only 10 or 12 years old. It was impressive, to say the least.
The auction is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 22 at noon. The sampler pictured here, made by Susannah Saunders of Salem Massachusetts in 1766, was one of the most valuable in the show----is estimated to be sold for between $60,000 and $80,000. That's a little out of my price range, I'm afraid, but as a quilter I'm gratified to see something handmade by a woman valued so highly.
We were especially interested in the many mourning pictures included in the show. This one, described as a "rare embroidered and painted silk mourning picture"was so beautiful, and was filled with amazing detail. It was made in South Hadley, Mass. in 1809. Estimated cost at auction: between $15,000 and $20,000.

NOTE: The results of the auction have been posted on Sotheby's website.  The piece in the top photo went for $314,000 (substantially above the estimate of $60.000 to $80,000!) and the mourning picture sold for  $18,750 (it's estimated value was between $15,000 and $25,000.)