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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Maker(s):Wheeler, Sophia Smead
Culture:American (1784-1843)
Title:christening robe and cap
Date Made:ca. 1823
Materials:textile: cotton
Place Made:United States; Connecticut; North Stonington (probably)
Accession Number:  HD V.053a
Credit Line:Gift of Mrs. Robert Stebbins Lipp

Christening robe and cap made by Sophia Smead Wheeler (1784-1843), the daughter of Solomon Smead (1754-1825) and Esther Smith Smead (1757-1808) of Greenfield who married Robert Wheeler (1777-1863) of North Stonington, Connecticut, in 1814, where they settled and had five children from 1815-1826, including Sophia Wheeler (1821-1840). The donor is a descendent of Asa Stebbins (1800-1864) of Deerfield through Asa's son, Francis Ward Stebbins (b.1829) and Ellen Wells Stebbins (d.1872); to Francis' son, Roland Stebbins (b.1853) who married Florence Rebecca Barney (1856-1902) of Greenfield in 1879; to Roland's daughter, Ellen Wells Stebbins (1883-1980) who married Lloyd Herbert Lipp (d.1965) in Billings, Montana, in 1905. Other Smead belongings were been passed on to Ellen Wells Stebbins Lipp's granddaughter, Karen L. Dunn. Ms. Dunn also found a note (in data file) written in ink in the family Bible referring to another sampler: "Sampler / Made by Abigail Smead [1787-1808] daughter of Solomon Smead of Greenfield Mass. in the 10th year of her age in 1797. She died in Jan. 1805 of spotted fever aged 18 years. The initials of A.P. stand for Abigail Smead. C. S. for Clarissa Smead [1782-1855]. S.S for Sophia Smead. P. S. for Polly Smead [1791-1807]. S.S. for her father Solomon Smead and E. S. for her mother Esther Smead. / Harriet E. Barney / Denver Col. Feb. 5th 1804" and written "Ellen Wells Stebbins" in pencil on the back. White-work embroidery, which had come into fashion along with long, white flowing neo-classical dress, was the height of style in the 1820s. Elaborate embroidery on infant's clothing has long been a symbol of love and affection. This example has embroidery at the base of robe and on the cap that came with the dress; both are torn in places. HD has a sampler made by Sophia Smead (HD 2000.4.1), watercolor profile (HD 70.132) of Sophia Smead, her wedding dress (HD V.053B), and a christening gown (HD V.053a) probably made by Sophia Smead Wheeler; a sampler (HD 2004.4.2) made by Sophia's daughter, Sophia Wheeler; a silhouette (HD 70.133) of Lovina Burke Smead, Sophia Smead Wheeler's step-mother; and pair of lace sleeves (HD V.53C) from the same family but without any provenance.

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