Memorial textile sampler in remembrance of Edward Quartermain
While it is not certain that this sampler was made in Australia, the story that it tells of the death of a 3 week old baby is typical of the experience of many families in late 19th century Australia when approximately one third of babies died within a month of birth. Many colonial Australian samplers were made simply as examples of needlecraft or as decorative items, but it was not uncommon for pious or memorial texts to be incorporated into the design.
This sampler is distinctive in its simplicity. It uses black silk on a perforated card with no backing fabric or pattern. The silk may have been chosen because it was the material most associated with mourning dress. Alternately it may simply have been all that was available. Possibly the maker of this simple sampler could not even afford to embellish this memorial any more. Certainly the sampler is a stark expression of remembrance.
Dead children were commemorated in a variety of ways in colonial Australia. Photographs of the child laid out typically in a coffin surrounded by flowers as if sleeping were commissioned by those who could afford them. Gravestones with designs and epitaphs specifically created to explain the death of children were common.
Simple though this memorial was, the time and effort taken to complete the text on this sampler suggests a process of meditation and contemplation during a period of grief. Almost certainly the sampler was made by a female relation of the deceased child, quite possibly the mother.