New in 2014: American quilts

By | December 25, 2014

We’re closing 2014 by celebrating some of the amazing works of art that became part of the SLAM collection this year. Make sure to read earlier stories about Wendy Red Star’s self-portrait series, John Singleton Copley’s Henry Barry, and Andy Warhol’s Shoe.

This year, the Art Museum formally accepted five quilts that are part of a gift from local collectors Richard and Suellen Meyer. This generous gift includes:

  • Child’s Whole Cloth Quilt, a whole-cloth quilt from the 1830s that is hand-pieced, quilted, and constructed from three panels of printed cloth. The fabric in this rare example of an early American baby quilt documents the development of textile-printing technology in America, as well as the status of the maker who could afford such fashionable, desirable fabrics. (Zoe Perkins, the Museum’s textile conservator talks, about this quilt in the video above.)
  • Chintz Strippie Quilt is another hand-pieced and quilted style of quilt that was popular from the 1830-40s. The alternating strips of cloth used to create the top layer of this quilt capitalized on the growing number of printed fabrics available on the market. The early date of this important textile fills a historical void in the Art Museum’s quilt collection.
  • White Trapunto Quilt, a textile dating to approximately 1840-1850 and made from white sateen woven fabric. Trapunto is a technique in which the quilted designs are stuffed with wadding creating a raised or three-dimensional effect. The white whole cloth quilt was first popularized in the late 18th century when cotton fabrics became commercially produced. This style continues to be popular today.
  • Sunday Baby Quilt, a white whole-cloth quilt of cotton sateen fabric that dates to about 1920. This quilt comes with a local connection – it was made in Washington, Mo. – and it represents a rare and late example of a Missouri-German Sunday Baby quilt. Prior to settling in the United States in the nineteenth century, German Americans did not have a quilting tradition.
  • Lincoln Quilt, a 1937 quilt attributed to Betty Harned Harriman, a Missouri quilt maker and scholar. Representing a Depression-era quilt, the pattern is believed to be based on a quilt owned by Abraham Lincoln’s mother. Harriman was known for reproducing quilts from historic house museums, often from period fabrics.