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Field of Diamonds Pieced Quilt

Origin: America, Louisiana, Bienville
89 x 74 1/2"
Printed and plain cottons
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2005.609.1
Rectangular bed quilt piece from solid and printed cottons in a pattern combining twenty thin 8-pointed stars within larger 8-pointed stars, pieced diamonds, and white-ground stepped diamonds within pieced squares. The predominant colors include pale greens, blue, pink, purple, orange, and yellow. Most of the prints are small-scale florals. One white-ground print may be a children's print; it has black designs on white, with crown motifs and possibly a cat rendered in cartoon-like manner.
Label:Field of Diamonds Quilt
Mrs. Emma Russell
Bienville, Louisiana, 1987
Printed and plain cottons
89" x 74 ½"

Although eight-pointed stars appear in the design of this quilt, Emma Russell called it the "Field of Diamonds." Emma Russell was an African-American woman who lived in Bienville, Louisiana, with her husband Will Henry Russell. Because of her choice of colors, the stars seem to fade and reappear, creating ambiguity as to whether the stars or diamonds predominate. The quilt shows its African roots in this rhythmic variation of the colors that give variety to an otherwise symmetrical design. There is a feeling of variation within a theme, not unlike that of jazz music.

Mrs. Russell made this quilt in 1987 for a New Jersey collector and quilt-lover. Her letter hand-written on a piece of lined paper torn from a spiral notebook states, "This is your quilt. The Field of Diamonds in Puff Pieces. [I] hope you will like it. Will and I both are up and doing very well at Present. Thanks to our Lord. I just keep Buisy with My sewing…." In other correspondence, Mrs. Russell reported that her husband helped her to quilt on occasion.