Elizabeth Jefferis (American, 18th century)
Chester County, Pennsylvania
Wool and silk on linen; 34 x 31 5/8 in. (86.36 x 80.33 cm)
Inscribed: JAMES JEFFERIS / ANN JEFFERIS HTC / EIEC / MIEI / EIHH 1777 C [S?] AT[ ] RISE M[ ] CL[ ] / ELIZABETH JEFFERIS / AC
Rogers Fund, 1959 (59.20)
This work falls somewhere between a sampler and a needlework picture. It owes its inspiration to seventeenth-century English crewelwork, such as bed hangings decorated with designs of large vinelike flowering trees emerging from small hillocks embroidered at the bottom edges. Such designs were in turn inspired by printed Indian textiles. Instead of creating a totally coherent picture, Elizabeth Jefferis chose to have most of the motifs float untethered across the linen; thus the composition also recalls Pennsylvania German samplers, which feature unrelated individual motifs. This needlework is the earliest example of at least three known pieces of this type made by Chester County girls.