Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Quilt, Strip pattern

ca. 1825
Made in New England, United States
102 1/4 x 89 1/4 in. (259.7 x 226.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Flora E. Whiting, 1971
Accession Number:
Not on view
This quilt's top is composed of thirteen long strips of six different English block- and roller-printed fabrics stitched together in a symmetrical arrangement from the center strip. It is quilted overall in double-diamond pattern except for the double swag quilting in the border. The corners were notched at bottom, probably after the piece was completed. The hacking is of a coarsely woven white cotton, and the batting is of carded cotton.
The appearance of a Strip quilt is usually very like that of a wholecloth quilt, even though it is technically pieced. Like wholecloth quilts, the makers of Strip quilts like this example and another in the collection (1990.40.1) were concerned with showing off the large pieces of fancy fabric with which the quilts are made, rather than calling attention to an intricately pieced design. While some of the pieces of fabrics in the two quilts were probably left-overs from other home-furnishing projects, others, such as the wide strip with bowls of fruit at the center of quilt 1990.40.1, may have been purchased specifically with the quilt in mind. All these fabrics have large-scale patterns that would not have been as visually effective if the quilt maker had chosen to cut them into small pieces to be stitched into an ordinary pieced quilt. The fabrics in this quilt were manufactured in England during the period between 1815 and 1825; some were quite common and match fabrics in other museums' collections. A few of the fabrics are block printed, and others are roller printed. Most of them are not of the finest quality available at the time. Block-printed patterns such as the one showing peacocks and their chicks on the center-strip fabric were often copied from earlier English fabrics. This particular one was copied from a delicately drawn copperplate print, in red on a white linen and cotton cloth, which was originally manufactured between about 1765 and 1775, possibly by the textile printers G. P. and J. Baker Ltd. The strips on both sides of the center one were cut from another widely used bird pattern, of about 1815. This quilt is a particularly good illustration of early nineteenth-century fashions in upholstery and drapery fabrics. Bird and pillar prints were favorites, and the way the strips are placed mimics the vertical composition of contemporaneous fabric designs. The fabric strips are placed so that they mirror one another, making the quilt symmetrical outward from the center strip.

The quilt could have been made in England, but the coarsely woven white cotton backing, which is typically found on American quilts of the period, suggests American origins. It is also made with the typical New England T shape (see also a Palampore quilt, 2014.263). Another possible indicator of an American provenance is the piece's very simple double-diamond quilting, which covers the entire surface except for the outer-most border, which is stitched with a variation of rope quilting. English quilting is often more ornate, incorporating a wider variety of decorative patterns.
[Peck 2015; adapted from Amelia Peck, "American Quilts & Coverlets in the Metropolitan Museum of Art," 2007]
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