Sampler by Isabella Brown, 1842.

Linen fabric, wool threads, 415mm x 245mm.

This sampler is clearly of Scottish provenance with the standard Scottish colour scheme of red and green threads, and a wealth of genealogical referencing in the sets of initials and names. It also has a moral injunction from the Book of Proverbs: Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. It is in fact crammed with detail but so much so that it looks a little messy and lacks the elegance of a well-designed sampler. There is an interesting array of border patterns between the rows, as well as a surrounding border in red. Two nicely worked spot motifs of carnations face each other on a forty-five degree angle at the bottom corners with a bowl of plenty in the middle. The sewer’s name and her age are worked into a separate panel in the bottom section but don’t seem quite finished, with the ‘4’ back to front.

It seems very unfortunate that a sampler with so much genealogical detail worked into it should lack any detailed provenance. It was given to the Museum by Mrs E. M. Tubman of Timaru in 1951, along with the sampler by Isabella Guthrie. No further details were supplied and we do not have any more information on Mrs Tubman’s family background to undertake a genealogical investigation. Isabella Brown, a Scottish girl who worked this sampler in 1842, probably at school, thus remains in all other respects a mystery.
Isabella Brown
Production Date
422 (h) x 425 (w) mm
455 (h) x 350 (w) mm (mounted)