COLLECTION: Quilts & Coverlets

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Appliqued Botanical Album Quilt

ca. 1860
Origin: America, possibly Maryland
80 3/4" X 69 3/4" (irreg.) (205.1 x 174.6 cm)
Plain and printed cottons; ink inscriptions; silk ribbon; silk, wool, and cotton embroidery threads
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1985.609.5
This is a pieced, stuffed, embroidered, and appliquéd album quilt composed of 24 12-inch squares, which have fruit, floral, birds, baskets of flowers, vases of flowers, butterflies, lyre, and ivy and floral wreath motifs. There is one large square in the center of the quilt with a wreath of roses surrounding the Lord's Prayer embroidered in red cross stitches and an inscription "To Emma" (see inscriptions). Outside the wreath of the large center square are 4 eagles (one in each corner) with banners declaring "E Pluribus Unum." Within the wreath at upper left is the inscription "Forget me not." In the lower row of blocks, within the shield-shaped motif, is "Love." Within the wreath at lower right is "Remember me." At center right, a tiny bird perched on a plant holds a nameplate with the inscription "Louise / Present." The delicate designs are made up of layered and padded appliqued swatches, some with the additions of silk ribbon and decorative embroidery stitches, all of which create a quilt with great dimensionality. A few of the flower petals were padded, stitched in the round, and then applied to the quilt. The quilt is bordered on all sides with a motif of leaves on a straight stem. The bedcover is quilted in 8 running stitches per inch in clamshells, outlines, and squares on point. It is backed in white cotton and bound in a bias-cut green strip of cotton.

Stitches: chain, couched, cross, satin, straight
Label:"Love," "Remember me," and "Forget me not" are all inscriptions that tie this quilt to a strong mid-nineteenth-century interest in albums, both quilt and book varieties. The verse below the Lord's Prayer suggests that this quilt may have been made for a woman about to embark on a new phase of her life, perhaps marriage or a move. It reads "To Emma / May you my child in virtue ['s] way proceed / Her paths are pleasant and to heaven lead / Then when you leave this tenement of clay / Angels shall guide you to the realms of day."
Unusual motifs in this quilt include the hanging basket and the bleeding heart, geranium, love lies bleeding, and fuschia plants.
Provenance:No provenance other than vendor is known.
Inscription(s):The Lord's Prayer is embroidered in cross-stitch in large center block: "OUR FATher / who art in heaven hallowed / be thy name thy kingdom come / thy will be done on earth as it / is in heaven give us this day our / daily bread and forgive us our debts / as we forgive us our debtors / lead us not into temptation but / deliver us from evil for thine / is the kingdom the power and / glory forever Amen." Below prayer at bottom of wreath is poem "To Emma/ May you my child in virtue's way proceed Her paths are pleasant and to heaven lead/ Then when you leave this tenement of clay Angels shall guide you to the realms of day." Embroidered in various blocks are the sentiments: "Love"; "Forget me Not"; "Remember me"; and "Louise Present." One each of the four banners in the eagles' beaks in the large center block is "E Pluribus Unum."