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Appliqued Quilt, African American maker

1900-1920
Origin: America, Mid-Atlantic
W. 70" x H. 88"
Plain woven cottons, solid and patterned; velvet; braid; beads; wool embroidery threads buttons; shade pulls; lace.
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2000.609.7
Rectangular quilt with a ground of cream color cotton appliqued with various motifs using hand and machine stitches. Top center has a man and a woman standing beside each other. The man wears a blue-striped shirt and long velvet trousers; he holds a brown case in his right hand. The woman wears a hat or turban and a dusty pink dress trimmed with lace; she holds a purse of flowers in her hands. Slightly left of center square of quilt has winged angels in the corners of the square and appliqued flowers, hearts, and snakes. In the center of the square is an undulating circle with a red cross with a sheep? at its base and two white-robed figures on either side. They have maroon embroidered hair and features. Red flowers and multicolor leaves surround the cross and figures. The remainder of the quilt is filled with appliqued squares, some relating to those in Baltimore Album quilts, including chickens, baskets, and wreaths of flowers, hearts, and scattered flowers. Along the right side, the motifs are interrupted, suggesting it has been cut down. The quilt is backed with yellow cotton, brought to front and machine stiched to form binding.
Label:African-American Appliquéd Quilt; maker unknown; Baltimore, Maryland, or New York; 1900-1920; appliquéd cottons, wool embroidery threads, lace, braid, beads, shade pulls, and buttons; 88" x 70"; 2000.609.7.

This dynamic quilt is an expressive example of African-American quilt making. Composed as a collage of textiles with braids, beads, buttons, and shade pulls, the quilt blends motifs and colors from African cosmology with designs freely borrowed from traditional American album quilts. Oral tradition states that the quilt memorializes two young African-American sisters who died in one of the epidemics of the early twentieth century. The sisters are represented as angels beneath the central cross. The quilt may have been cut down on the right side.
Provenance:Previously owned by Gladys Marie Fry.
The maker or makers of this quilt are unidentified.