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Sampler by Elizabeth Searles
Judith Hayle School, Ipswich, England, 1701
Silk on linen
26 x 7 inches
Courtesy of M. Finkel & Daughter

This recently rediscovered sampler belongs to a group of ten outstanding samplers worked under the instruction of Judith Hayle of Ipswich, England, between 1691 and 1704. As a group, the ten samplers have received much-deserved attention from scholars and curators. Most of the samplers are in museum collections, including the Museum of London, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the V&A Museum, Colonial Williamsburg, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and have been included in various publications. The location of the Elizabeth Searles sampler has been unknown since 1926, when it appeared in the catalogue of the Lord Leverhulme collection.

The Searles sampler features the distinctive regional characteristics, exceptional designs, and sophisticated techniques that attest to the high level of proficiency of the teacher. Judith Hayle’s students were all from Ipswich and worked their samplers when they were between 12 and 18 years of age. Most of the makers, including Elizabeth, used the following verse on their samplers: “Look well to what you take in hand / For learning is better than house or land / When land is gone and money is spent / Then learning is most excellent.” Elizabeth Searles’s sampler retains its strong, original color and is in excellent condition; it is indeed a remarkable discovery.

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