Friday, September 21, 2012

Eagles Appliqued and Embroidered

Quilt dated 1808 by Rebecah Foster (detail) 
Appliqued and stuffed-work eagle.
Collection Tennessee State Museum

Eagles are among the earliest conventional applique in which the images are cut from small prints rather than transferred from a printed chintz. Eagles were popular even before the War of 1812.

An overall view of the Foster quilt. She combined embroidery and conventional applique using indigo prints.  The image is the Great Seal of the United States, featuring a bald eagle holding laurel leaves and arrows with a shield on his breast and a banner in his beak. The seal, adopted in 1782, inspired many artists.

Quilt dated 1807 by Esther S. Bradford, Connecticut,
appliqued eagle. Collection: Henry Ford Museum

A similar quilt in red and white. It's hard to believe this is appliqued, as the lines are so fine, but that's what the catalog says.
See more here:

Here's a sharper picture in black and white. The maker is perhaps the Esther Bradford born on December 2, 1782 in Montville, New London County, Connecticut, who married Reynolds Johnson on August 25, 1821 and died on December 1, 1823 in Colchester, Connecticut.

Patchwork can be considered an efficient form of embroidery. These quilts seem to be appliqued adaptations of traditional embroidery designs. The embroidered bedcover below in red and white is almost identical to the Bradford quilt

Embroidered bedcover
Brooklyn Museum
This piece was on the cover of Rose Wilder Lane's
Woman's Day Book of American Needlework

And here it is again in colored yarns in an embroidered bedcover sold by Copake Auctions.
We assume a needlework pattern was passed around or perhaps a professional pattern drafter marked  fabric.

The quilts above make good use of two fabrics---a white background and indigo or madder prints. The fabrics might be domestically produced, since these simple prints were the kind of thing American printers could do.

Eagle applique by Susan Strong Bell (1809-1875)
Collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
The catalog information dates it to 1825-1840

Susan's eagle quilt is unusual in it's use of white applique on indigo. It seems related to the earlier quilts in design and fabric use.

Eagles were such popular imagery in this early period that I have three  posts from last year on the subject