Catherine Earnest,

Catherine Earnest,

Lancaster County or Montgomery County,
Pennsylvania, 1844

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sampler size: 18” x 21½” • framed size: 22”x 25½” • price: $4700

Schoolgirls from Pennsylvania continued to produce strong, pictorial samplers into the 1840s, occasionally featuring large, public buildings. Catharine Earnest’s sampler, with its wonderful church building and outstanding border, is a praiseworthy example of this genre. The building, with its many pale blue windows, sits on a deep green, satin-stitched lawn and is flanked by tall, stately trees. Surrounding the sampler on three sides is a very unusual border - an organic vine with varied and fully-developed flowers, much of it is worked with enormous number of over-sized queen’s-stitches. The composition and execution are both excellent.

Interestingly, this sampler greatly resembles one made by Matilda Catharine Mettiss in the collection of Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie and seen here: http://nscda.org/historical-activities/samplers/ (search Mettiss - maker - from this page). Both young ladies featured the same unusual building, the large vowels set centered above the verse, the virtually identical, extravagant borders and lavish use of the queen’s stitch. Either the samplermakers attended the same school or, possibly, Miss Mettiss was a teacher and her sampler, which isn’t dated, was a prototype for her students.

Our samplermaker was likely the Catherine Ernest who was born on March 7, 1830 in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania to John George Earnest / Ernst and his wife Anna (Swartley) Earnest. The family lived in Lancaster then Montgomery County where John was a nail maker, weaver and Mennonite minister. In 1842 the family returned to Lancaster County. Catherine married Jonas Wenger and they had at least 8 children. She died in 1906 and is buried in the Hershey Mennonite Church Cemetery in Lancaster County.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in very good condition with some very minor areas of slight wear. It has been conservation mounted and is in a beveled maple frame with a cherry outer bead.

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