Sampler thumbnail 1
Sampler thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery

Sampler

1668 (dated)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Object Type
Samplers like this were exercises in embroidery stitches and techniques, which had become well established as part of a girl's education by the middle of the 17th century. Typically in this long thin form, they were filled with rows of repeating patterns worked in coloured silks, sometimes interspersed with figures or floral motifs. Their makers often signed and dated them, as Martha Edlin has done here.

People
Martha Edlin (1660-1725) worked a series of embroideries during her childhood, including this jewellery case, which were cherished by her descendants and passed down through the female line in her family for over 300 years. We know little about her life, except that she married a man called Richard Richmond and appears to have been a prosperous widow living in Pinner in Greater London at the time she drew up her will, with daughters and grandchildren.

Materials & Making
Following the usual development of needlework skills in a young educated girl in the mid-17th century, Martha Edlin embroidered a sampler in coloured silks at the age of eight, and a more complicated piece in whitework and cutwork at nine. By 1671, her eleventh year, she had embroidered the panels of an elaborate casket, and two years later this beadwork jewellery case. The needlework skills she demonstrated in these pieces would be important attributes in her adulthood, in the management of her household and the making, mending and decoration of her own and her family's clothes.
read Embroidery – a history of needlework samplers Our collection includes over 700 needlework samplers ranging from as early as the 1400s, to pieces stitched in the 20th century. They offer a fascinating insight into the practice and teaching of an important domestic craft. Find out how the social and educational significance of samplers ...
Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Linen embroidered with silk
Brief description
Band sampler embroidered on linen with silks, made by Martha Edlin, England, signed and dated 1668.
Physical description
Band sampler embroidered on linen with polychrome silks. With three alphabets, inscribed 'Martha Edlin 1668', and with floral motifs, birds and animals. Embroidered with silk in double running, cross, two-sided cross, long-armed cross and satin stitch, and with eyelets.
Dimensions
  • Length: 81.9cm
  • Width: 21cm
Dimensions checked: Measured; 26/04/1999 by dw
Marks and inscriptions
'Martha Edlin 1668' (Decoration embroidered in silk; near lower edge)
Gallery label
British Galleries: This is the earliest surviving piece of Martha Edlin's needlework, completed when she was eight years old. Samplers were made to show the development of a young girl's needleworking skills, through a range of stitches and techniques.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Art Fund
Object history
Purchased. Registered File number 1989/1572.

Passed down through the female line (usually the eldest daughter in each generation) from the maker to the vendor.

Previously on loan to the V&A since 1927. Part of Lady Gerahty Loan and Lewis Loan. Related papers include NF for Lady Gerahty, NF for Gillian Lewis, 86/713, 89/1572.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
Samplers like this were exercises in embroidery stitches and techniques, which had become well established as part of a girl's education by the middle of the 17th century. Typically in this long thin form, they were filled with rows of repeating patterns worked in coloured silks, sometimes interspersed with figures or floral motifs. Their makers often signed and dated them, as Martha Edlin has done here.

People
Martha Edlin (1660-1725) worked a series of embroideries during her childhood, including this jewellery case, which were cherished by her descendants and passed down through the female line in her family for over 300 years. We know little about her life, except that she married a man called Richard Richmond and appears to have been a prosperous widow living in Pinner in Greater London at the time she drew up her will, with daughters and grandchildren.

Materials & Making
Following the usual development of needlework skills in a young educated girl in the mid-17th century, Martha Edlin embroidered a sampler in coloured silks at the age of eight, and a more complicated piece in whitework and cutwork at nine. By 1671, her eleventh year, she had embroidered the panels of an elaborate casket, and two years later this beadwork jewellery case. The needlework skills she demonstrated in these pieces would be important attributes in her adulthood, in the management of her household and the making, mending and decoration of her own and her family's clothes.
Bibliographic references
  • Ashton, Leigh. Martha Edlin: A Stuart Embroideress. Connoisseur. Vol. LXXXI pp.215-223
  • Browne, Clare and Jennifer Wearden, eds. Samplers from the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publications, 1999. 144 p., ill. ISBN 1851773096.
Collection
Accession number
T.433-1990

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

Record createdJanuary 13, 1999
Record URL
Download as: JSONIIIF Manifest