Monday, March 29, 2010

Sisters' Samplers: Sally Durham and Jerusha Durham

Jerusha Candace Durham

The Durham sisters, Sarah (Sally) Johnson Durham (1817-1849) and Jerusha Candace Durham (1825-1880), worked two very different samplers. Sally's sampler, dated 1832, is a simple marking sampler, with the two alphabets, her name, and the date worked in cross stitch. Two rows of pulled thread work run across the top of the sampler.

1832 Sarah (Sally) Johnson Durham
Warren Co.
silk on linen
5 1/3"V x 7"H ©TSS 208

Jerusha's sampler is an elaborate affair, boasting complicated stitches such as buttonhole wheels. Jerusha included 24 sets of initials, many of them representing her two half-siblings and ten brothers and sisters.

1842 Jerusha Candace Durham
Smith Co. or DeKalb Co.
silk on 26 ct. linen
16 1⁄2"V x 17 1⁄4"H ©TSS 098

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sisters' Samplers: Susan Dysart and Clinton Dysart

(left) Susan Denny Dysart, with her husband Robert S. Montgomery
(right) Esther Elizabeth Clinton Dysart

The Dysart sisters of Palmetto, Marshall Co., produced three samplers between them. Susan Denny Dysart (1831-1881), the elder, worked a remarkable piece in 1847, at the age of 16. The large building motif on Susan's sampler may be Solomon's Temple. It is also found on Minerva Ann Elam's sampler of 1831 (TSS 004). Susan's first sampler, like her second and like her sister's, is still in the original frame. The initials A.R.E. are worked at the end of her row of numbers; perhaps they indicate her teacher.

1847 Susan Denny Dysart
Palmetto, Marshall Co.
silk and wool on 24 ct. learning canvas
25 1⁄4"V x 23 1⁄4"H © TSS 170

Susan's second sampler of 1851 is smaller and less complex. Worked on an unusual blue-gray perforated paper, the motto, border, and motifs features cross, cross over one, half-cross, rice, and satin stitches.

1851 Susan Denny Dysart
Palmetto, Marshall Co.
silk and wool on 20 ct. perforated paper
9 1⁄4"V x 11 1⁄4"H © TSS 170

Esther Elizabeth Clinton Dysart (1836-1878), known as Clinton, also finished a sampler in 1851. The two sisters probably worked their samplers together, sharing materials and motifs. Clinton suffered from epilepsy and Susan cared for her younger sister until Clinton's death. According to the family, Clinton had a seizure, fell into the fireplace, and later died from her injuries.

1851 Esther Elizabeth Clinton Dysart
silk and wool on 24 ct. wool/cotton blend
Palmetto, Marshall Co.
21 1⁄2"V x 23 1⁄4"H © TSS 17

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tennessee Decorative Arts Symposium, Belmont Mansion

Janet and I will be speaking at this symposium, Saturday, April 24, 2010, at Belmont Mansion, Nashville. See the mansion's website for more information.

1837-1840 Elisa J.? Holland
15 3⁄8"V x 16 3⁄4"H © TSS 124
silk on 34 V/30 H ct. linen

You are invited to join scholars, collectors, and historians from diverse backgrounds as they examine and interpret the material culture and decorative arts of the South with an emphasis on Tennessee.

Many of the early items used by Tennesseans were made out of necessity, for functional use, by local craftsman using local materials and later evolved into “fancy” works of art, furniture, and architecture. Since Tennessee was one of the first Federal territories to present itself for admission to the union outside the original colonies, an understanding of its role in the development of the South and the Nation is of great value. Tennesseans have played important roles in shaping the character of our Nation. Three presidents—Jackson, Polk, and Johnson have called Tennessee home and their involvement at the national level impacted many of the cultural affairs of Tennessee during the 19th century.

Tennessee’s three “grand divisions”— Middle Tennessee with its foothills and basin, East Tennessee with its mountainous terrain, and West Tennessee with its plains offered a variety of native materials and resources that were used by settlers in the early development of the state. This conference will highlight specific examples and recent discoveries which will enable you to see the stylistic changes clearly exhibited in the decorative arts of Tennessee and their origin. This symposium aims to address the ever growing interest in the decorative arts of Tennessee and to encourage the sharing of ideas and information. Seating is limited to 100 persons and advance registration by mail, fax, or online is required. Registration will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lecture, William King Museum, Abingdon, VA

c. 1858 Mag (Margaret) P. Evans Theorem (detail)
Greene Co.
15 1/4”V x 19 1/4”H © TSS 159
materials: pastels, pencil, watercolor
ground: paper

Janet and I will be speaking at the William King Museum in Abingdon, VA, on Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm, in conjunction with the current exhibit "An Educated Woman: Art from Girls' Schools and Womens' Collages." Our lovely Powerpoint slide show, which I have spent many hours perfecting, will showcase examples of samplers and theorems from East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

Visit the museum's website for directions and additional information.