Friday, May 29, 2020

Mary Miller Taylor Quilt #4 1832

Quilt attributed to Mary Clayton Miller Clark, 1832.
MESDA Collection
Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts

Inscribed in cross-stitch in the center
“A.C. Taylor
 from his
Grand Mother 

Quilt #4 is the latest of the Mary Miller Taylor inscribed quilts, dated in 1832 when she was about 58 years old. Alexander Clark Taylor (1825-1911) was 7 years old when the inscription was stitched. Perhaps he was envious of his older brother William's quilt dated six years earlier so a quilt was sent to him in Newark, New Jersey.

Eight appliqued vignettes with small florals and leaves scattered between them
on single piece of fabric.

This quilt combines the almost-block applique of Quilt #3 with the triangle borders from Quilt #2

1824 border of five strips

1832 border of six strips

Alexander Clark Taylor, like his older brother William, attended the University of Pennsylvania for a medical degree, graduating in 1850.

One fragment of Alexander's life is kept in the archives of Pennsylvania's Lehigh University. He left a journal of 24 pages, dating from November 1843 until July 1846 when he was "a primary school teacher in Vineland, New Jersey awaiting acceptance into the medical school of University of Pennsylvania." 
Here's a link to Journal & Extracts by Alex. C. Taylor.

After graduation Alexander returned to Vineland where he practiced medicine and ran a pharmacy. In 1859 he married Clara A. Dalzell from Philadelphia and there are records of two sons, John D. Taylor and William C. Taylor.

This quilt wound up in South Carolina with Mary's descendant Julia Taylor Scholz (1930-2008) (daughter of another Alex Taylor of Vineland) who donated it to MESDA along with quilt #1.

Like quilt number 1 for his father, Alexander's quilt includes birds
cut from chintzes found in other quilts of the time.

The most recognizable is Bird B, pheasant and palm tree
first printed in England in 1814 at Bannister Hall

Repeat in the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum
See a post on the ten colorways of this print here:

Bird A looks like a pheasant in a bowl of fruit on a pedestal.

Cut from a pillar print.
The quiltmaker did not cut just the bowl but included the
capital for a little extra elegance and height.

This piece of the pillar print from the Winterthur Museum's collection
shows how the bird and fruit basket are rather precariously perched
on an architectural column.

Bird C: Similar bird perched in similar fruit basket but with a large palm frond.

Here's a monochrome version of the bird, fruit and the palm fronds.
No pillar.

And a very strangely colored version that may be
a later reproduction.

Three of Bird D frame the central cherub.

Hard to see what he looks like. I haven't found any yardage
yet with this cheerful bird but have seen him appliqued to other quilts.

Welch Quilt
Perhaps that bird of paradise (?) was once as bright as this one in a quilt associated with Elizabeth Welch in the Brooklyn Museum's collection and an almost identical quilt associated with Catherine Markey Garnhart (1773-1860) in the D.A.R. Museum.

See Anna Catharine Hummel Markey Garnhart's quilt here 

The Elizabeth Welch quilt uses many of the same birds as the 1832 Taylor quilt....

With bird C cut from the pillar print in the four corners.
What is intriguing is that the quiltmaker here also cut both
fruit bowl and pillar capital, a rather distinctive way to use the fabric.

My first thought in looking at these common bird images was that one could buy finished or basted blocks to incorporate into one's own quilt like this palm tree and pheasant block from a top auctioned at Skinner's a few weeks ago.

A rather unimaginative use of 12 identical chintz blocks.
Left over inventory?

But there are no block seams on the chintz quilts before 1840.
The birds and flowers float on the background cotton as in Mary Miller Taylor's 1824 quilt #3.
We might refer to the centers as whole cloth quilts with appliqued images.

Perhaps one bought the appliques as slips---an ancient term for a decorative piece to be transferred to another textile. Slips are most often thought of as embroidery slips as in the 18th-century piece below that you can buy on Etsy.

A slip is a worked image that is to be attached to another piece of cloth.

See one from about 1600 in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum:

A needleworker might buy a trimmed applique image, perhaps pasted to a piece of paper
to use in her quilt.

1826, Ann E Hill, North Carolina project & the Quilt Index

Ann Hill's quilt looks to have 18 identical cut images.

1829, Sarah M Wallace, Chester District, South Carolina, online auction

And then the raw edges were secured with a blanket or buttonhole stitch.

Detail of Mary's quilt #3

There are flaws in my theory of cut-out chintz slips, the major one being I have never seen a piece of trimmed chintz that looks ready to stitch to another piece. We've seen basted chintz cut-outs ready to be stitched but they are already attached to the larger fabrics.

Helen Winthorpe Kendrick shows you how to make an embroidered slip in Stitch-Opedia: The Only Embroidery Reference You'll Ever Need

More on slips from Meg Andrews:

More about the Garnhart/Welch quilts here:


One more post tomorrow on quilts that may be related to Mary Miller Taylor's.


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  2. Could Mary have been working on her UFO's and using up her stash as she got older? those zig-zag borders seem like an extravagent use of previously hoarded fabric.

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