COLLECTION: Quilts & Coverlets

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Tile Quilt with Figures by Unknown Maker

Origin: America,
OL: 70"; OW: 68" (178 x 173 cm.)
Cottons, silk and cotton embroidery threads; cotton quilting threads
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2006.609.2
This is an almost square quilt made of pieced and appliqued cottons with additional embroidery. The quilt center is composed of sixteen blocks of appliqued abstract shapes, as well as figures including that of an African-American man with horse and whip, a snake, and birds. A block in the third row depicts a yellow cat riding a brown dog. Each appliqued piece is separated from its neighbor by a narrow quarter-inch band of white muslin ground fabric showing through. The undulating vine and floral border on all four sides is machine stitched. The bedcover is quilted in a random four-petal flower motif in 11 running stitches per inch. The quilt is bound with a red cotton tape.

Embroidery stitches: chain, couched, and straight
Label:Combining odd-shaped pieces with pictorial elements and embroidered details, this quilt can be compared to late nineteenth-century "crazy" quilts. In this example, however, each appliquéd piece is separated from its neighbor by a narrow band of white muslin ground fabric showing through, resembling the grout between broken ceramic tiles or the mortar between pavers or stones. The effect is one of vitality within an organized framework. This style of quilt is sometimes called Boston Pavement or Stonewall, but is most often referred to as Tile Quilt. An unusual pattern, only about twenty-five original quilts of this type have been documented; all date roughly to the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
The undulating vine and floral border has been appliquéd by sewing machine. During the second half of the 19th century, sewing machines were expensive and highly desirable. Women occasionally showed off their new possession and their skill in using it by machine-stitching visible areas on their quilts.
Provenance:According to the auction house, the quilt was consigned by a quilt dealer who purchases many of her items in the south, including Tennessee and Kentucky.
Per conversation between Sue Studebaker and Kim Ivey 9/19/06: Andy Richmond of Garth Antiques informed Sue that Betty Hull of Franklin, Tennessee, was the consignor of the quilt. She purchased it in the south.
Mark(s):No marks or inscriptions.