Elizabeth W. Bower
Mary Tidball’s School Sampler
Washington County, PA dated 1834
This important sampler is one of two known from the Tidball school with the early date of 1834. Its bold design
and large format are characteristics that endured for the next 20 years helping us indentify later examples from
this graphic interesting group of samplers.
Mary Tidball’s school was located next to the Presbyterian Church at Bethel Park, in the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh.
Inscribed: Elizabeth W. Bower daughter of John and Mary Bower wrought this/ Sampler in the year 1834 Mary Tidball
The 2007 exhibition, Made in Pennsylvania: A Folk Art Tradition at The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg,
Pennsylvania, documented well the samplers made at the school of Mary Tidball, between 1834 and 1854. Writing in
the book of the same title, Harley N. Trice, informs us that, due to the quality and quantity of surviving works,
the Mary Tidball School is the best known western Pennsylvania needlework school. Samplers made at this school,
only 14 of which are known, are large, highly-stylized, and sometimes brightly colored; some contain the names
of the students’ parents and/or instructor, Mary Tidball. Betty Ring, in Girlhood Embroidery: American Samplers
& Pictorial Embroideries 1650-1850 vol. II (Knopf, 1993), characterizes the samplers made at the Tidball School
as including, big, bold flowers and exotic trees, stating that this striking group of large samplers was worked
in Washington County during the final years of the schoolgirl needlework era.
Silk on linen; 19” x 19” framed.
STEPHEN & CAROL HUBER
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