COLLECTION: Quilts & Coverlets

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Appliqued Cherry Tree and Birds Quilt

Origin: America, New England, Connecticut (possibly)
80" x 77" (203.2 cm x 195.6 cm)
Cottons with cotton and silk embroidery threads
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jason Berger
Acc. No. 1979.609.3
This is an almost square appliqued quilt made up of solid cotton fabrics. The top motifs are appliqued onto a single piece of plain-weave white cotton and consist of four large fruit trees, red birds, and a meandering grapevine border. The large trees form quadrants, each facing outward in a different direction, while varying floral and foliage designs break up the spaces between them. A grapevine and bird border encircles the whole. An extra-large cluster of grapes is at each of the outermost corners. In the center of the quilt is an appliqued round stylized floral motif. The backing consists of three pieces of a coarser plain-weave white cotton whose selvages, where intact, measure 33-inches. The edges of the backing are turned over the top, folded under, and stitched by machine to form a binding. Supplementary cotton and silk embroidery threads form the birds' eyes and the twigs in some of their beaks. The bedcover is hand-quilted overall in 5-6 running stitches per inch, the stitches running over the applique swatches, in a pattern of fans or waves.

Stitches: knots, stem
Label:Two favored motifs in nineteenth-century American needlework—birds with fruit trees and meandering grapevines—appear on this appliquéd quilt. Supplementary cotton embroidery threads form the birds’ eyes and the twigs in some of their beaks. The muted color scheme, the overall fan quilting pattern, and the single piece of top ground fabric, however, are clues to the quilt’s later date. As is true of at least one other similar appliquéd bedcover, this one may have been inspired by a well-known quilt that is said to have been made about 1820 and was donated to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1919. An image and description of the quilt were published in the January 1922 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal. The quilt pattern was available by mail.
Provenance:According to donor, the quilt is from the Byron family of Stony Hill Rd., CT (location of the family until late 1930's). Donor reports that quilt was made by the grand- mother of Mrs. Byron, who was about 60 years old c. 1930 when the donor knew her (see letter in file). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jason Berger, New Rochelle, N. Y.
Mark(s):These inscriptions are block lettered in indelible ink on the reverse in three of the corners: "36/Winslow (marked through)/ Winslow"; "W21"; and 36 LO (?)/381/(illeg.)."