Monday, 9 May 2016

Old Samplers and Tapestry Embroideries


In March 1900, an exhibition called 'Old Samplers and Tapestry Embroideries' was held at the Fine Art Society's rooms, London. The exhibition was curated by Marcus Bourne Huish and a Mrs. Head, who gave details about techniques and stitches.

The exhibition was divided into three sections: examples of embroidery under the general heading of 'Pictures in imitation of tapestry,' then over 350 samplers together with items such as book covers, garments, caskets, purses, and so forth, which were embroidered by those who had learnt the art of sampler making or were using samplers as guides for their work. There were samplers from every decade since the mid-seventeenth century. Many of the items on display came from Huish’s own collection.

A small catalogue with the same name accompanied the exhibition. The catalogue was twelve pages long. Soon after, the catalogue was expanded by Huish into an extended study called Samplers and Tapestry Embroideries (1900; London: Longmans, Green and Co.). This book was reprinted in 1913 as an enlarged version that included extra information, especially about American samplers.

This book has become a classic source of information about the history of British, European and North American samplers.


A digital copy of the 2nd edition can be enjoyed HERE

Marcus Huish was born in 1843 in Castle Donington, Leicestershire (England), the son of Marcus Huish (a solicitor) and Margaret Jane Bourne. In 1862, at the age of 18, Marcus Bourne Huish went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge University, where he studied law. Huish was called to the bar in 1867 and became a barrister. He married Catherine Mary Winslow in 1878 and they had one daughter, Margaret Dorothy Huish (born in 1879). Huish was very involved in the art world, especially Japanese art, and published several books on the subject. He became a part-time art dealer.

In the early 1880's he retired from the law and became the editor of The Art Journal (editor: 1883-1891). He was also Director of the Fine Arts Society and chairman of the Japan Society (London; 1879-1911). His work with Japanese art and culture was recognised by the Japanese government by the awarding of the rank of Chevalier of the Order of the Sacred Treasure. In addition, he was made a Knight of the Order of the Crown of Italy for his part in organising the British section of the International Art Exhibition, in Venice (Italy; later called the Venice Biennale) in 1909.

At some point Huish started to collect samples and samplers and it would appear his large collection included early seventeenth century English examples, as well as Dutch, French, German, Indian, Italian, Scandinavian and other forms.

Huish died in 1921 in Kensington, London.

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