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Madame Tougas 1904 Reproduction Sampler - Couleur Tourterelle
Reproduction Sampler - French 19th Century

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Linen and Threads


This is an exceptional French sampler in part for its unusual lengthwise format – over four feet wide - but above all because it was stitched by 18 different children: Louise, Eglantine, Joséphine, Léonie, Henriette, Rose, Marguerite, Jeanne, Adèle, Marie-Thérèse, Berthe, Germaine, Hortense, Fernande, Elise, Eugénie, Zoé and Julie!

As indicated in the text, these are all students of Madame Tougas's class, at the local school of Chavigny-Bailleul, in Normandy. Aurélie Tougas* was in fact the teacher's wife, and she had no doubt been put in charge - as was current at the time – of teaching needlework to her husband's girl pupils. This unique sampler shows that she had original ideas and a very good sense of organization to carry out this collective work.

The sampler is very interesting design-wise, with 8 alphabets of varied style, including two, all curves and arabesques, showing Art Nouveau influence - let's not forget that this is 1904.

The smaller generic letters, used for names and school, are derived from the 18th century Linenmaid’s Alphabet, designed for marking laundry and still in use at the time. Note that all complete alphabets include letter W, a modern feature, perhaps the influence of her husband as a teacher?

It was quite a feat organizing a work stitched by 18 pairs of little hands ...

I imagine Madame Tougas decided to start each alphabet on a single line, even if that meant it might be truncated. She then filled in her pupils’ names, managing to fit in all the information without the slightest gap and perfectly balancing the sampler. There is only one single error in the girls’ stitching, the repetition of letters P and Q in the 2nd row.

The original sampler (last image) measures 53” x 16” (135 x 41 cm), it is stitched in cotton on rustic canvas.

Reproduction sampler measures 33 x 12.4 inches (82,5 x 31 cm) and is stitched on 16ct linen.

Stitch Count: 659W x 247H
Linen: Newcastle 40 count - colour 222 Cream
Threads: Au ver a Soie or DMC
Colours: 2


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