Mourning Samplers

Mourning Samplers

I have been wandering about, down the paths of textile history, poking about in digital collections online and found a few snippits about the connections between mourning pictures and samplers.

Around 1800 mourning samplers became not only popular but conventionalized. Mourning pictures heavily influenced mourning embroidery. So this is a case of needlework following a trend that was occurring elsewhere in the visual arts which does happen often. Usually in this type of image mourners are standing forlornly near a memorial stone or a neoclassical funerary urn, often there is a willow somewhere in the scene as this motif is a symbol of resurrection.

Some mourning pictures were painted on silk and then embroidered. As expressions of grief they became popular and in some cases taken to extreme. For instance there are even examples of some mourning embroideries stitched in human hair. It is this popularity in the state of “mourning” that lead artists to being commissioned to do the drawing.

There are a number of sites that cover mourning or memorial samplers. Here is a brief definition from Whiteworks and the Stitchers Studio provides a longer article on them.

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