July 16, 2016

American Quilts and Folk Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

All photographs by Mary Holton Robare.
While the focus of this blog is Quaker quilts and history, from time to time we like to share other quilt-related experiences.  Mary had the opportunity to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in early July and to see their current exhibit of quilts.  The quilts on display are actually the second rotation of an exhibit that was on display through January 8th, 2016.  The current quilts will be displayed in Gallery 751 just through August 7th, 2016.

According to the Museum's website, "This exhibition features eight quilts - all recent additions to the Museum's outstanding quilt collection, only one of which has been shown at the Museum before.  The display also includes a selection of folk painting and furniture from The American Wing's collection, as well as two important paintings by [the Quaker painter] Edward Hicks (American, 1780-1840), on loan from the Peter J. Solomon Family Collection."

The quilts in this second rotation are all mid-nineteenth-century, graphically stunning, and superbly crafted.  The Museum grants permission to take non-flash photographs.

The maker of this "Star of Bethlehem Quilt" is unknown, but its label describes
it as , "Probably New Jersey, ca. 1845," acc. # 1998.87.1  Measuring 104 X 103 inches,
it was a gift of Robert E. Cole, in memory of Helen R. Cole.
As is most typical of the Star of Bethlehem pattern, this quilt has a large central star whose rays extend to the quilt's edges.  Four small complete stars serve as the corner blocks, and four half stars fill the spaces on the sides.  Although made in the nineteenth century, all of the fabrics remain fresh and vibrant.   The dark blue ground fabric is particularly effective - evoking the night sky and setting off the brilliant multicolored stars.
This quilt is described in its label as, "Mariner's Compass Quilt," Pennsylvania, 1847,
acc. # 2011.374.  It has an inscription in its center block in ink"  "Barbara Ann Miller/her quilt/
1847."  Measuring 108 X 107 inches, the quilt was a gift of the Hascoe Foundation in 2011.
"Star of Bethlehem Quilt, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, ca. 1845-1848," acc. # 46.152.2. 
Made by members of the Congregation of the First Baptist Church, Middlesex County,
Perth Amboy, New Jersey, it measures  76 1/4 X 75 7/8 inches and was a gift of
Mrs. George Sands Bryan, in memory of her husband, George Sands Bryan, 1946.
From the Museum's website, "According to his granddaughter-in-law, Reverend George Faitute Hendricksen (1817-1894) received this quilt as a gift from his congregation during a church Harvest Festival.  A minister for over fifty years, Hendricksen served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Perth Amboy from 1845 to 1848."
"Star of Bethlehem Quilt, maker unknown, possibly New York ca. 1845."  Measuring
90 X 89 1/4 inches, the quilt was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Schwartz, acc. # 1973.64.
"Star of Bethlehem Quilt," made by Rebecca Davis ca. 1846.  Measuring
80 X 94 inches, it was a gift of Mrs. Andrew Galbraith Carey, acc. # 1980.498.3.
According to the Museum's website, "In the pieced blocks, the quilting stitches follow the star shapes with parallel lines.  In the plain white blocks, the quilting pattern alternates between four tulips and four leaves.  The quilt has a cotton-batting filling, and the back is of plain white woven cotton.  There are partial English design registration marks on some of pieces of fabric."
"Star of Bethlehem Quilt" ca. 1835.  It measures 122 X 122 inches.  Purchase, Sandbury-Mills
Fund., acc. # 1973.204.
"The presence of paired Baltimore orioles printed on the English chintz in the four corner blocks makes Maryland a likely candidate for the place of origin."
"Quilt, Star of Bethlehem pattern variation" ca. 1840-50.  Measuring 112 1/2 X 107
inches, this quilt was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Hosmer, 1948, acc. # 48.134.1.
"Unfortunately, little is known about the provenance of this quilt; however, it can be dated to the mid-nineteenth century by the type and palette of the brightly colored calicos.  The clear hues of the reds and yellows are especially notable.  This cheerful palette is shared by other quilts in the American Wing's collection, such as 46.152.2, 1980.498.3, and 2011.374, all of which can be accurately dated to the second half of the 1840s."
Mary wishes she had easy access to these quilts and the time to conduct an in-depth study of some of  them - study that might reveal a Quaker connection here and there!  But, for now, we decided to just share these stunning quilts with all of you.
You can find out more information, and see additional, high-quality photographs of the quilts (including a few detail shots) by visiting the Museum's website.
All information herein came directly from the exhibit labels or the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare


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