Susan Masson, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, 1805
Mrs. Dobel's Seminary
A remarkable number of women were advertising their schools and teaching needlework in Boston during the Federal Period but it's not all that often the samplers produced can be assigned to a specific school or teacher. Our samplermaker here tells us that she worked her sampler at Mrs. Dobel's Seminry [sic] in Boston. These generally were schools of higher education . . . especially a private school for girls when used in this context.
Mrs. Mary Dobel operated her school in Boston as early as 1796 and until as late as 1813 with various listings in The Boston Directory showing the several locations for her school. This sampler, worked by Susan Masson in 1805 thematically contains the same subject matter as found on other samplers from Mrs. Dobel's Seminary and include the charming scene of a large twin chimney house.
It's possible it might even be the school as they generally were residential institutions. There are numerous trees in the background and two water birds (swans?) on a pond in the foreground with a large bird in a tree and cat tails in the foreground. A cartouche contains a verse on Virtue which she has taken a bit of poetic license with with apologies to William Congreve in the Mourning Bride.
Tho plunged in ills and exercised
in care yet never let the noble
mind despair for blessings always
wait on virtuous deeds tho a
late a[s]sure reward succeeds
Several other samplers, the 1808 Mrs. Dobel's Seminary sampler, worked by Sarah Chandler, and in the collection of the New England Historic Genealogical Society of Boston, share characteristics with the sampler worked by Mary Dennis in 1813 and the one worked by Susan Masson in 1805. They include essentially the same charming scene, this time of a little cottage and trees in the background and two water birds on a pond in the foreground.
Susan was the daughter of the French immigrant Maurney Masson and his wife Sarah Farrington. She was born 8 Nov 1795 in Boston, Mass. and married John Andrews Esq. at Christ Church (Old North Church) in Boston on 12 May 1816. Their union produced four children, Peter St. Medard, Sarah, Daniel and Charles. It is interesting to note that on the back of the sampler is information regarding a tall case clock that was auctioned by Christie's that was given to John and Susan as a wedding present in 1816 and descended down through the family.
The sampler, worked in silk on linen, is in excellent condition and conservation mounted. The colors and contrast are very good and the entire presentation is charmingly naive` but executed with great needlework skill, especially considering she was only 10 years old. Size is 13 x 19 inches (sight) and 17 x 22-1/2 inches framed.
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