Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Broderie Perse Evolves

Chintz applique medallion dated 1837-1838 by Mrs. James Lusby
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution

Cutting chintz images from one piece of fabric and stitching them to another was a technique that remained popular with Americans through the middle of the 19th century. Mrs. Lusby's quilt above has much in common with the Broderie Perse medallions made about 1810. Dogtooth applique and chintz borders frame a central floral. The major clue to date, had she not inscribed it, might be the Turkey red final border, a very popular fabric choice from about 1840 through the end of the century.

Another quilt from the Smithsonian collection with a basket holding the florals.

Center with a lattice-work basket from an online auction

It is pirmarily the fabrics that help us date these cut-out-chintz medallions as style changed so little.

Again, an emphasis on Turkey red, a fabric rather rare in 1815, dates this quilt to after 1840.

The maker combined the new fashion for conventional applique in the Germanic primary colors with the now old-fashioned cut-out chintz.

Another open-work basket medallion, hard to date from just a photo in an online auction. These baskets and containers seem to have replaced tree-of-life compositions as the century wore on, but you don't want to really use that as a clue to a later date since these quilts are all so similar. If you wanted to put a basket or a cornucopia as a container in an 1812 reproduction quilt you could make a case for it.

The one thing you don't want to do is make a block-style Broderie Perse quilt.

Like this one from the Proudfoot family in the collection of the Smithsonian.

I know it's tempting. Blocks are so portable.
But it would be like wearing a bustle to Dolley Madison's Wednesday night squeeze.

Irish Chain with Broderie Perse
from Laura Fisher's collection

It's an idea whose time hasn't yet arrived.
Blocks and Broderie Perse---about 1840.

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