Phoebe Brown

Mrs. Ventham’s Boarding School,
Winton, Hampshire, England, 1804

sampler size: 15" x 11" • framed size: 18½" x14¾" • sold

As many collectors out there know, sampler images printed onto poster paper and then framed turn up with regularity and have been known to confuse or fool auction houses with some regularity. One of the most admired posters is of a sampler made in 1804 by Phoebe Brown – its popularity is due in large part to the very detailed and animated pictorial farmyard composition.

Imagine our delight when we had the opportunity to purchase the original sampler! In person, the real sampler is enormously appealing. 

It is signed, “Phoebe Brown finished this Work April 6th 1804 At Mrs. Ventham’s Boarding School Winton In her 16th year.” The needlework evidenced on this sampler is extraordinarily fine, with tent and cross stitch used in a minute scale, allowing for great detail. The depiction of the house with its early architecture, the dovecote, the barn in which a farmer leads his cow, the duck pond at the lower left and the various animals and people that populate the lower half of the sampler provide us with a wonderfully complete picture of farm life of the period. 

There are six known samplers made at Mrs. Ventham's Boarding School, which was in the town of Winton in Hampshire, England; these were made between 1802 and 1822. Phoebe’s sampler includes the greatest number of portrayals of people and animals. 

The verse reads, “All you my Friends now expect to see / A Piece of Work thus perform’d by me / Cast but A Smile on this my mean endeavour I’ll strive to mend and be Obedient ever.” This was also stitched on the 1802 sampler made at the Ventham School. 

Phoebe was most likely the young lady of that name who was born in Winton (the earlier name for Winchester), baptized there on April 8, 1789. She was the daughter of Thomas and Charity Brown. 

The sampler was worked in silk on wool and is in very good condition but with several areas of loss to the wool. The needlework is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a period maple frame with a gilt inner liner. 

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