Madame Tougas 1904
REPRODUCTION SAMPLER PATTERN, READY TO DOWNLOAD, BY Couleur Tourterelle
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.
* Aurélie Freulard, the future Madame Tougas, was born on August 4, 1868 in Saint Germain de Fresney, in Normandy. She was the daughter of Charles Freulard, a farmer, and Amélie Brisset, without a profession.
The couple already had two children, Léopold and Louise. Aurélie's early childhood was dramatic, she was only 2 years old when her father Charles died assassinated. Her mother Amélie died 3 years later, leaving three orphans. This is probably when Aurélie was entrusted to Léopold Freulard, her uncle on her father’s side. Indeed it is he who, as guardian, will sign Aurélie's marriage certificate in 1884, when she was only 15 and still a minor.
On June 14 1884, Aurélie therefore married Armand Tougas, 23, a teacher in Val-David at the time. They had three children, a little boy Fernand who died at the age of one, and two little girls. Flora and Raymonde.
Aurélie Tougas died in Chavigny on April 24, 1923, she was 55 years old.
A cross stitch pattern by Couleur Tourterelle.
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Chart info & Needlework supplies for the pattern:
Madame Tougas 1904
Chart size in stitches: 659 x 247 (wide x high)
Needlework fabric: 16 ct Zweigart Newcastle linen, color 222 (cream)
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Stitches: cross stitch,
Chart: Color and B&W, includes overview for Digital stitching. Note: given the exceptional size of this sampler, the chart is 27 pages.
Threads: Soie d'Alger silk from Au Ver à soie (AVAS) or DMC
Number of colors: 2
Themes: French,early 20th century, school,
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