Monday, May 7, 2012

Pictorial Patchwork

Detail of the Mary Morris Quilt
Ontario, 1825
Collection of the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Mary Morris's embroidered quilt with the central panel dated 1825 features the floral imagery typical of quilts made in Great Britain and North America in the 18th and early 19th centuries. It is unusual in its use of human figures along the sides (see last week's post for more photos.)

Very few early quilts survive with human figures.
The British bedcover above depicts Queen Victoria's Cornonation in 1838.

A label says "H.C. Simmonds near the Mansion House at Weston near Bath. Somerset Sh[ire]"

The Coronation

It sold for £10,200 in late 2009. See the catalog entry from Kerry Taylor Auctions by clicking here:
 The British Simmonds quilt is very much like an American quilt from the same period.

"Trade & Commerce Quilt"
Hannah Stockton Stiles
Collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, New York 

Hannah Stockton Stiles lived along the Delaware River, one of the busiest trading arteries in the United States.
See more here:

Her bedcover called the Trade and Commerce Quilt is dated to about 1830. The dresses in the family at the bottom (Hannah and husband John Stokes had 11 children) show the exaggerated sleeves popular in that period.

The bedcovers share a common viewpoint, portraying space as seen from above without the conventions of western artistic perspective, something we see in children's drawings.

The Brooklyn Museum has a similar quilt, described in a 1984-5 catalog as
"a charming late 18th-century English or Irish appliqued pictorial quilt with rural scenes which include a public house (pub) and a romantic church ruin adjacent to a graveyard and border pairs of animated personages who are attired in everything from everyday work clothes to informal at home and business wear to military uniforms to best dress outfits. Their character is achieved through stitched features. While the subject depicted is unusual, the concentric bordering it typical of British quilts of this date."

Detail of a quilt by Sarah Furman Warner Williams,
 New York and Vermont. More about
Sarah and her pictorial quilts in another post.

The United States has a few of these early pictorial quilts.

This Maine quilt of embroidered wools pictorials sold to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Pictorial embroidery itself is not unusual---it's the use of human and architectural images in British and American quilts that is rare.
Indian Kaantha
The sources and inspiration are many---an old and continuing tradition in India of including humans among the flora and fauna

Schoolgirl embroidered picture of Liberty and the
Native American woman symbolizing America

Embroidered pictures date back centuries and continued to be a part of girl's educations and ladies' pastimes.

Pictures of buildings and landscapes are common in samplers of the era.

With human figures less popular

although they were common subject matter in the copperplate toiles of the time.
Bedcovers with human figures seem to belong to small and isolated currents of style.

Early 18th century English bedcover
now in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg

with  portraits in the blocks and along the border

See more of this piece at the Colonial Williamsburg website by clicking here
And doing a quick search for this accession number

The German principalities of Prussia and Saxony have a history of pictorial patchwork called inlay work or intarsia going back to the 15th century.

Detail of an inlaid pictorial quilt, Germany, mid-19th century

Something that seems a far cry from of Mary Morris's unsophisticated view of a hunt.


WoolenSails said...

I love pictorial quilts and have always loved the one with ships. I do have a copy in my folder and someday, I will do some of them in a quilt. I also use samplers as quilt ideas, great source for inspiration.


Betweens said...

In Amherstburg Ontario Canada will be holding special events Aug 3rd 4th and 5th it is called from Roots to Boots. The war of 1812 was held there. you can read more of the history at
Love reading every detail of the historical quilts you post your investigation is thorough and it is such a great wealth of knowledge. I would like to create historical quilt one day and your blogs help with the ability to one day do so.