Here Flora Reigns

Description
After a young lady learned to embroider a sampler, she might attend a female academy to make a silk embroidered picture. This was a more challenging technique that became popular in the early 1800s. Subjects included classical, biblical, and historical scenes, as well as mourning pictures.
This oval embroidery shows a young woman draping a garland of roses over a monument whose front bears the legend, "HERE FLORA REIGNS" printed on a glued oval of paper. The monument is embellished with flakes of mica. In the foreground are low-growing plants, some of them surrounded by areas of seed-stitching characteristic of embroidery done at Abby Wright's school in South Hadley, Massachusetts. To the left, behind a tall tree, is a painted town com¬posed of white buildings with red or black roofs and doors (another typical motif of this school). The embroidered oval is edged by three rows of silver wire twisted to make a square band. Beyond this band the border is embroidered with a garland of roses across the top, and a garland of lilies, tulips, and daisies across the bottom and up the sides. In the lower right corner, beyond all of the embroidery, is a very faint inscription (in ink?): "Almira D." The picture is stitched on an ivory twilled-silk ground with silk thread. The stitches used are satin, long and short, seed, stem, straight, French knot, and couching.
This embroidery was not done in South Hadley at Abby Wright’s school, but in Claremont, New Hampshire, with the teacher Sophia Goodrich. Sophia was a half sister to Abby Wright and attended Abby’s school in South Hadley, Massachusetts in 1804. In November 1809, she returned to take over the school. “Here Flora Reigns” is from a poem entitled “Burbage” written by English poet Frances Greensted and published in 1796.
Almira Dexter was born October 6, 1794, to David and Parnel Strobridge Dexter in Claremont, New Hampshire. Almira married Moses Wheeler in about 1831, as his second wife. She died April 5, 1858. (See her sister Lucy’s embroidery).
For more information about this embroidery see Piecework, March/April 2007, “Three American Schoolgirl Silk Embroideries from the Smithsonian” by Sheryl De Jong.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
silk picture
date made
1809
sister of maker
Dexter, Lucy
maker
Dexter, Almira
Physical Description
silk (ground material)
silk (thread material)
Measurements
overall: 22 3/8 in x 29 1/4 in; 56.8325 cm x 74.295 cm
place made
United States: New Hampshire, Claremont
ID Number
TE*T19365
catalog number
T19365
accession number
261195
subject
Textiles
Embroidered Pictures
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Embroidered Pictures
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Eleanor and Mabel Van Alstyne
referenced
Ring, Betty. Girlhood Embroidery, American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework

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