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McPhail, Sarah Hatton
Place Made:
Norfolk Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
silk on linen
HOA 19 1/8; WOA 19 1/4
Accession Number:
MAKER: Sarah Hatton McPhail (b.1820) was the daughter of John McPhail (1773-1851) and his wife Mary (1789-1862). John McPhail’s obituary stated that he was “born in Glasgow, Scotland, he came in early life to this country and for more than half a century had lived here. Mr. McPhail took an active part in the organization of the First Presbyterian Church of Norfolk, and for many years filled the office of ruling elder.” Sarah married merchant George Ferguson Anderson on October 17, 1842 in Norfolk, Virginia. George was also active in the Presbyterian Church.

DESCRIPTION: Alphabet and numeral sampler with water scene; silk on linen; silk threads in colors of blue, pink, green, yellow, brown, navy, and black. Alphabet–top two rows are capital letters followed by numbers; second row of letters are capital, but smaller; the third row of letters are small case and end with the date. Each row of letters is divided by a decorative design; the border around the sampler is a floral design; large roses divide the top (alphabet and numbers) from the bottom (water scene); the water scene has a person in a boat with buildings on either side of the water; various types of trees can be seen in the foreground and the background.

Two-ply silk on plain weave linen, 28×28 threads per inch; stitches: back, counted cross, four-sided, herringbone, marking cross, outline, rice, satin, single.

Worked into her design (below the rose band), are the inscriptions, “Regret succeeds folly” and “Yourself respect” – from, “The Juvenile Instructor, Or Natural Grammar and Reader” by Albert Pickett published in 1815. Sarah signs her sampler, “Wrought by Sarah Hatton McPhail in the 8th year of her age Jan. 28th 1828”.

RELATED OBJECTS: Sarah’s sampler is part of a group of Norfolk, Virginia samplers that include detailed landscapes, rose borders or bands, and sometimes alphabet and numerical sequences. Her sister, Lilias Blair McPhail, stitched a similar scene surrounded by a border of roses. It is in the collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art (1973.76.352).

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Frances S. Bowie in memory of Caroline L. Stevenson