Quilt top, appliqued


Not on view

The American Wing quilt collection is rich in Album quilts, from the most formal example of a high-style Baltimore quilt (1974.24) to quilts made by groups with blocks that have been signed by their makers (52.103, 1988.134, 2016.172) to anonymous examples like crib quilt 1991.42. Album quilts were popular in the 1840s and 50s, and though the Baltimore area is most famous for them, they were also made in New York state, and Pennsylvania. As quilts, they are particularly treasured for their lively appearance due to the variety of usually appliqued designs in each individual block, as well as the fact that many are made up of blocks that have been signed by their makers, and these names can provide a window into the history of the quilt and those who made them, revealing both community and familial ties.

While this quilt top is unsigned, and perhaps one of the least sophisticated examples to enter the collection, it reveals the range of possibilities within the album quilt style. Most of the blocks are appliqued with the prevailing motifs of the 1840s and 50s—floral sprays and floral wreaths. The naïve quality of most blocks makes one wonder if they were made by children or simply by inexperienced sewers. There are a few more finely crafted blocks in the quilt, such as one towards the center with well-formed apples and cherries, and the corner block with the cross, anchor and heart. The grape vine border is also very competently realized. It was not uncommon for album quilts to be created by members of church groups, and the block with the cross, anchor and heart representing the Holy Trinity, and faith (the cross), hope (the anchor) and love (the heart) may point to this piece having been constructed by members of a church community.

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