Unraveling a Mystery in Storage at the Seattle Art Museum

by Rachel Baker on November 8, 2014

This is a longform article about a piece of needlepoint that was recently found in storage at the art museum in Seattle. The needlepoint was done 1831 by a liberated African slave living in Sierra Leone. I invite you to read the wonderful article below to learn a little bit about Charlotte Turner.

Read more: Unraveling a Mystery in Storage at the Seattle Art Museum

Six weeks ago, Seattle Art Museum announced they had acquired a “significant collection of early American art.” The collection was a trove of 45 “early American” objects assembled by the interesting American collector Ruth J. Nutt, who died in 2013, according to a statement from the museum. Some of those objects had already been on display at SAM thanks to a long-term loan, including Raphaelle Peale’s 1814 oil painting Still Life with Strawberries and Ostrich Egg Cup, and others were added, including an actual cup made out of an ostrich egg.

On page three of the announcement about the acquisition, the museum mentioned Nutt’s “outstanding collection of needlework,” among which “one sampler stands out.” It described a needlework sampler made in 1831 “by a 10-year-old named Charlotte Turner, a liberated African slave who was resettled to the Bathurst settlement in Sierra Leone. This is the only known example produced within this population.” There was no image of the needlework sampler in the press release, and the sampler wasn’t going out on immediate display, but it intrigued me.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

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