Dorothy Ashton


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Dorothy Ashton’s sampler of 1764 shows characteristics of a group of samplers made in the vicinity of Salem, Massachusetts. The most renowned school in this area was that of Miss Sarah Stivour whose pupils’ samplers are often recognized by very long stitches of crinkled silk used in the backgrounds and arranged with a man, woman, sheep and a dog in a​ landscape, with alphabets and verse at the center. While Dorothy Ashton’s sampler falls into this scheme, it was in fact made before the Stivour school existed, suggesting that a predecessor to Stivour developed this distinctive style of needlework in the Salem area. On the original samplers, ink sketch lines can sometimes be seen in areas where there has been thread loss. While the central area was worked using the counted thread technique, the borders were stitched freehand. Stitches used include surface satin, stem, cross, back, French knots, outline and seeding. The original is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.