18th Century English

The English sampler underwent its most dramatic transformation during the eighteenth century, as its form gradually followed its function. No longer solely a pattern record, samplers were evolving into frameable art in their own right. A more pictorial format emerged throughout the eighteenth century. Borders, verses, and pictorial scenes replaced the long pattern bands of the seventeenth century. Until about the last quarter of the eighteenth century, stitch variety, symmetry and technical expertise were paramount in English needlework. Great genius was exhibited in many of these samplers, demonstrating that they were more than mere alphabetical exercises in monotony. Like American samplers of the nineteenth century, stitch variety declined and, with rare exceptions, only the cross stitch prevailed on later, simpler works.

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