american 19th c. samplers

German Samplers

The first printed pattern book for embroidery (Furm und Modelbschlein ) was published by Johann Schoensperger the Younger (c.1480-1543) in Augsburg, Germany, circa 1523. This book and the many that followed inspired new creation from seamstresses in Germany . Several German embroidery exercises dating from the 16th century have survived. They features many different motifs, often religious, achieved in bright colors with different stitches and thread. They are often worked in silk threads on linen ground.

In the 16th and 17th most of German embroidery exercises were worked in a long narrow band: we have to remember that the work was to improve and show the skill of the embroider. Longer was the band more works was needed to achieve it. It was more a collection of different styles and exercises than an artwork as it was to become later. The ground linen was most of the time home spun and the width of the band was dependent upon the width of the home loom.

At the same time Germany remained a political mosaic of small, independent states under the aegis of the Holy Roman Emperor. Local specific characters were very important and the styles varied from one region to another. Nevertheless in Germany samplers remained mostly functional and more rarely an artwork in itself.

Needlework samplers from Northern Germany usually have the format of wide rectangles or squares with several rows of alphabets and numbers at the top and border running around. Their style was often inspired by the Netherlands and sometimes by Denmark. Religious motifs are very common as most of schools were controlled by the church after the Reformation. Most of the time they are mixed with secular motifs.


Das Deutsche Stickmuster-Museum Celle
Palais im Prinzengarten
29223 Celle

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