Ruth Bacheler 1717
Ruth Bacheler's sampler is, to the best of our knowledge, a unique example of a piece that spans two distinct periods of sampler-making. It combines the band (long, narrow) shape of the 17th century with the verse and border types evolving in the 18th century. It is one of the earliest examples showing a border, and an unusual border it is, composed of multicolored Irish stitched points. Also known as Florentine embroidery, or, more recently, as bargello work, this type of embroidery was most often used for upholstered surfaces because of its strength and beauty. Early 18th century examples, such as this, were often worked with brighter colors and twisted silk threads. As the century progressed, this type of work was usually done with crewel wools, in more muted shades. A rambling pious verse covers the top half of the sampler, which then erupts in color for the lower half. Very little has been written about this dazzling and challenging sampler, now in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, so its origin and purpose remain a mystery.