Elizabeth Covil Spurling, Greenwich, England, 1826
sampler size: 16” x 12¼” • framed size: 18¾” x 15”
English samplermakers working in the first decades of the 19th century often presented highly structured and formulaic compositions. We greatly prefer those rare examples of a free-form scene expressing the individuality and whimsy of a young stitcher and were delighted to have been able to acquire this excellent example, worked in 1826 by Elizabeth Covil Spurling. The highly detailed large brick house dominates the scene, with its chimneys smoking and a handsome garden settee next to an enormous tulip. The house dog looks on as five large deer frolic beneath lush, leafy trees. Topped by a flock of birds and a shimmering sky, Elizabeth’s depiction holds enormous appeal.
Elizabethalso included two carefully worked poems and one rendition of the alphabet, along with flowers baskets, a bowl of fruit and a pair of butterflies. Her lettering, various motifs and the entire scene attest to a high level of skill in the needle arts.
The Spurling family lived in Woolwich, a Kentish town near Greenwich, which became part of London in 1889. Elizabeth’s parents, John Sampson Spurling and Elizabeth Covil married in 1813 and she was their first born, baptized on May 1, 1814 at St Mary Magdalene. John Spurling owned and operated the Steam Packet Tavern in Bell Water Gate, Woolwich and it’s likely that Elizabeth attended a school in the area. In 1841, she married Charles Henry Jenkins, also a tavern-keeper, owner of the White Hart Pub in Woolwich.
The sampler was worked in silk on wool and is in excellent condition with one minor area of loss to the wool. It has been conservation mounted and is in a bird’s eye maple frame.