Lot 645
  • 645

Rare needlework sampler: adam and eve in paradice, Lydia Hart Boston, 1744

30,000 - 40,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Silk on fine linen
  • 11 1/2 by 9 in.
Inscribed recto, silk thread: Adam and Eve [n Paradice That Was The/ir Pedigree They Had A Grant Never To / Die Would They Obedient Be. 1744


Skinner Auctioneers, Boston, Massachusetts, "Fine Americana," October 29, 1983, lot 208
Marjorie Schorsch, Greenwich, Connecticut, as agent, 1983


Bishop, Robert and Jacqueline Marby Atkins, Folk Art in American Life, New York: Viking Studio Books in association with American Folk Art Museum, 1995, p. 100
Ring, Betty, Girlhood Embroidery: American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework, 1650-1850, vol. 1, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993, p. 43
American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum, p. 290, fig. 257


Inscribed with name - faded. Small break at the bottom above the letter "T"
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Lydia Hart worked the most visually appealing example within Boston's earliest known group of samplers which presently dates from 1724 to 1754. Nine pieces portray nearly identical figures of Adam and Eve above similar beasts, birds, and bugs. They also include elegant renditions of the Scottish thistle and Tudor rose, signifying the 1603 union of Scotland and England upon the ascension of James I (1566-1625). Lydia's work is the first to have what became a characteristic border for these and later eighteenth-century pastoral samplers, but its solidly worked background is unique. Earlier pieces by Mehetabel Done (1724), Martha Butler (1729), and Abigail Pool (1737) depict Adam and Eve beneath borderless alphabets and band patterns. In 1734 Ann Peartree and Elizabeth Langdon worked nearly identical borderless pictorial samplers with similar motifs on brown linen. More closely related to Lydia's work are samplers by Rebekah Owen (1745), Sarah Lord (1753), and Mary Lord (1754), with the same borders and gardens.2 Rebekah and Mary worked the same inscription as Lydia. Lydia's identity remains uncertain. The Lydia born in Boston to Elias and Lydia Hart on September 12, 1719, is unlikely to have worked this at the age of twenty-four.3Among the nine pieces described, the known ages of six makers range from nine to thirteen years.

A Lydia of appropriate age was born in Northington, Connecticut, to Joseph and Mary Bird Hart on August 8, 1728. Her father was a shoemaker, deacon of the church, and a town magistrate.4 Quite possibly his daughters were educated in Boston. This Lydia married Noah Gillet (1718-1790) on December 15, 1748, and their ten children were born in Farmington, Connecticut.5 No woman is known to have kept a Boston girls' school from 1724 through 1754, but circumstantial evidence suggests that these samplers may have been worked under the instruction of Susanna Hiller Condy (1686-1747) and her sister-in-law Abigail Stevens Hiller (?-1775), who advertised her school from February 1748 until May 1756.6 Four samplers dated 1765 to c. 1772 have Lydia's border and similarly worked flowers, including one by Mary Welsh, whose sister Hannah married Abigail's son Joseph (1721-1758).7 -B.R.

1 For five of the nine samplers mentioned here, another closely related example, and the best known English prototype, see Ring, Girlhood Embroidery, vol. 1, pp. 37-41, figs. 33-370 39, and the catalog for Sotheby's sale 7010 (6/97, lots 330, 331, 332).

2 This was probably the Lydia Hart who worked a borderless band sampler inscribed "Boston" and dated "February The 4 Day 1731" (collection New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord).

3 Alfred Andrews, Genealogical History of Deacon Stephen Hart and His Descendants, 1632-1875 (Hartford, Conn.: Case, Lockwood, and Brainard, 1875), pp. 169, 181.

4 Wilma Gillet Thomas, The Joseph Gillet/Gillett/Gillette Family of Connecticut, Ohio, and Kansas (Chicago, Ill.: Adams Press, 1970), p. 32.

5 Boston Evening-Post (Feb. 1, 1748, April 22, 1751, and April 9, 1753), and Boston Gazette (June 11, 1754, May 26, 1755, and May 24, 1756).

6 Stephen Huber and Carol Huber, The Sampler Engagement Calendar 1992 (Old Saybrook, Conn.: 1991), fig. 45, Calendar 1993, fig. 38, Elisabeth Donaghy Garren, "American Samplers and Needlework Pictures in the DAR Museum, Part I: 1739-1806," The Magazine Antiques 105, no. 2 (February 1974): 358, and Ring, Girlhood Embroidery, vol. 1, p. 53, fig. 51.

7 Helen Bowen, “The Fishing Lady and Boston Common,” Antiques 4, no. 2 (August 1923): 70-73.