QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Garnhart Group of Quilts: #4 Pattern and Techniques

Crib quilt in a private collection.
Pictured in Stella Rubin's
How to Compare and Value American Quilts

Quilt in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum

Yesterday's post was about common fabrics found in the quilts attributed to Catherine Garnhart. Today's is about common patchwork patterns in the group. We mainly recognize the Garnhart group by the pattern blocks and how they are arranged into the quilts. This basket cut from a grid or plaid print is found in 5 of the quilts.


One of three quilts descending in the family of 
Hannah Thompson Woods


A closeup shows how cleverly the fabrics were cut.

We don't see a lot of conventional applique in these quilts. Cut-out chintz applique is the predominant technique.

Chintz applique: the design is cut from a furnishing fabric
and transferred to another background.

Do note the grape leaf at the bottom in the bird block is a third technique---reverse applique in which the background is cut away to reveal another fabric underneath. 

It's difficult to tell if the eagles are regular old conventional applique
or done in reverse.  I see a shadow indicating brown fabric under the white
 but it may just be a stain.

Eight of the quilts in the group feature eagles, some with patchwork shields...

Three almost identical quilts use pieced striped fabric for the shield.

From the quilt in the Brooklyn Museum. 

Reverse applique is a style signature of the group of quilts:

This quilt loaned to the DAR exhibit Eye on Elegance by the family features
 grape wreaths and a leafy border done in reverse applique.

Reverse applique can be detected in a photo by the slight shadow outlining the leaves here,
evidence of the green fabric under the white.


The shadowing is visible in these two grape leaf wreaths from the quilt donated by the family to the Plains Indian & Pioneer Museum in Oklahoma.

A different leaf found in two quilts

One of the hallmarks in the group is a reverse appliqued
border of trailing vines, cut in simple leaves.

Recognizable even in this poor photo of a quilt Florence Peto
pictured in American Home in 1938

And then there is a more complex reverse appliqued (?) vine border....
looks like it has a shadow under each leaf.


More complicated leaves are found in five of the group.

Piecework plays little part, although most of them have a border of triangles.



Some triangle borders may be pieced but it's possible they are appliqued, dogtooth style with triangles slashed in a strip---one clue to that is the identical fabric in each triangle in the border.

Green dogtooth detail in a basket

We also recognize these quilts by the overall style, the manner of combining blocks and borders.

They have a directionality. You usually have no doubt where the top of the quilt is.

The center larger blocks tend to have a direction and
they are placed in the same plane.

I analyzed the sets.

The style is so distinctive we think we recognize one 
in an 1845 fair display in New York City.

See the whole watercolor of the quilt display at the City Museum of New York.


And Mary Turley Robinson definitely captured one in her print of Nantucket arts in 1938. 

A diagram, in case you are looking for an applique challenge.

Tomorrow: Re-examining assumptions

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Garnhart Group of Quilts #3: The Fabrics

Quilt attributed to Catherine Garnhart, 1849
DAR Museum, Gift of the Markey family.

In this post we look at fabrics common to the Garnhart quilt group and other bedcovers. Many were chintzes used often in quilts made between 1830 and 1850.

Quilt  attributed to Catherine Garnhart 
 Collection of the DAR Museum

We begin with a popular floral, this iris-like bloom in a quilt that the family thought appliqued about 1825 but not quilted until 1846.


Two views of that flower appear in a print dated 1830-1840 in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Terry Terrell recognized it a a Mexican Shell Flower. See Terry's website with information on this print: http://www.flowersonchintz.com/Flower%20-%20Tigridia.htm

Shellflowers alternate with a bouquet featuring a white calla lily and a cluster of purple auricula (primroses).

Block dated 1842

Several date-inscribed quilts by others use the same print, either the bouquet or the single stem or both. The range in my photo files is 1842-1846.

Jeana Kimball has a single block dated 1844.

See a post about this floral chintz here:

International Quilt Study Center & Museum, dated 1842-1844

This chintz sampler has the calla bouquet in each corner with the Mexican shell flower adjacent here.

Mary Rooker Norris's 1846 quilt 
Collection of the DAR Museum. 

The print is chopped up in the corners of the dedication block here.

1842-46 is a narrow range of dates. The Victoria & Albert's production date of 1830-40 (they are quite accurate there at the V&A) indicates that the print appeared in the United States relatively quickly. With evidence from all the chintz applique dated after 1840 and the fabric dated 1830 at the earliest, one would not expect to see any quilts using the print before 1830.


The calla in the vase in the quilt attributed to Catherine Garnhart at the top of the page seems to have been printed in a different colorway---or else it's faded so much we can't tell if its the same lily. The footed vase or urn is also a popular chintz. Style characteristics are a white highlight in the center and a red peplum (is that the right word?) the curlicue at the top of the foot.


A different colorway in another quilt attributed to Catherine Garnhart in the DAR collection (see the top of the page).

This vase with the red curlicue under the bowl appears four times in this quilt.

But in the corners the only part used was the foot and the red curlicue.

Below the eagle in this one

Same print in other groups of appliqued bedcovers:

Chintz applique with a medallion format at the International
Quilt Study Center & Museum
https://www.quiltstudy.org/quilt/19970070253

Sunburst quilt passed down in the Darnall family
Maryland Historical Society


IQSCM has two chintz medallions with the same center. I found a third in William Rush Dunton's book on Baltimore quilts (Plate 67 right). None of the quilts with this vase is date-inscribed and the estimated dates range from 1820-1850. 
We see the vase in quilts but I've been unable to find yardage with this particular floral arrangement in that footed vase. I'm looking for a vase with a few carnations and some trailing stems. 


Dunton was a bit too early in dating the chintz applique in plate 67 as 1825. I'd guess the print was available in the U.S. after 1830. Do note at the top of the page: the Garnhart family story that the top was quilted in 1846. This seems a more likely date for the applique rather than their 1825 estimate based on a child's birthdate.


Dunton wasn't all that accurate on dates. He was dealing with family stories and he had a limited view in the 1940s. In the caption for another chintz medallion he hedges his bets: "Said to have been pieced in 1733 by Mrs. Tibbs."
About 100 years off.

We see the same wicker basket in a Garnhart quilt, one
of a pair along the sides of the composition


The basket is cut from a pillar print---
yardage photo from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts collection.

IQSCM  collection
Again I've got photos of several chintz applique quilts using this print
but none with a date.

This intriguing quilt uses 20 of the pillar print capitals as vases,
but the seamstress must have had only a narrow (and very long) strip
as she assembled each of those arrangements from two or three chintzes.
I'd bet this is a Maryland quilt---the reverse appliqued feather vines,
the central star....

She pieced two other florals to her narrow strip.

Another from IQSCM with the pillar in the corners


Pook & Pook Auction, the Bennet family in Maryland

From a 1981 Quilt Engagement Calendar
America Hurrah the dealer

Rebecca Everingham Wadley
From the Georgia project book Georgia Quilts

From the Wilton House Museum collection in
Richmond, Virginia, the basket in the lower center.

Another pillar print--this one with a bird of paradise or pheasant
and some fruit. 

Detail of the Elizabeth Welsh quilt
Brooklyn Museum

The print is trimmed and appliqued without any other flourishes
in the corners of the Welsh quilt.

Yardage in whole-chintz coloring

The Winterthur Museum has a couple of pieces. They date the fabric to 1835.
There are two capitals, one in the pillar and one at an angle below the bird

In this Garnhart group quilt the top capital becomes a container.


Four of the images in this Garnhart family quilt, are cut from the fruit and pillar print.

And one last pillar print,
the chintz in the border of  two or three of the Garnhart group.



Also seen in the border of this block style Irish-chain.
No date but 1835-1860 I'd guess.

I could go on with more prints, but the point is made I hope:
The common fabrics the Garnhart quilts share with other bedcovers date most logically from 1830 to 1850. Although some of the grandchildren who handed down the quilts were born in the 1820s, it is unlikely the quilts were given at their births, information passed on in family stories.

A major source for the family lore is the 1919 biographical manuscript by great-grandson Frederick Gibson who was 4 years old when Catherine Garnhart died. That manuscript is in the D.A.R. Library.

Tomorrow: Techniques