Thursday, August 6, 2020

Birds & Spiders #3: More Tree of Life Quilts

Quilt with little history in the collection of the DAR Museum

The elements in the central tree of life are cut and rearranged from
the bird chintz we've been looking at in the last two posts.
 The quilting is stuffed work.

The tree was cut from this chintz including birds, pink florals on a tree branch
and dark pomegranates plus a spider.

Yesterday we looked at quilts with family information passed on with them. These are quilts cut from the same chintz but with little to no provenance.

Detail of a quilt sold at a Christie's Auction in London

89" x 92"
Now in Jane Lury's collection

The Lancaster Historical Museum owns this one with the birds in the border

The center features two hawks, also common in American chintz applique.

The bird fabrics would seem to be related in style.

Jane Lury has two quilts with the birds in them. This medallion focuses on a central furniture panel.

Two pair of the birds are in an inner border.

In his 1946 book William Dunton pictured this
album once belonging to the Clark family (possibly of 
Baltimore.) It was then in the collection of collector
J. Stogdell Stokes (1870-1947) who was President
of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Three birds and one spider arranged around the tree

I'd guess this quilt was from after 1840 when block-style chintz albums became the fashion. The maker combined the older tree-of-life piece (perhaps she'd been planning to finish it for decades) with
newer blocks from friends. Wish I could tell you the quilt is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art
collection but don't see it there.

Shelburne Museum collection

Possibly another late version with a combination of
chintz applique and conventional applique cut from calicoes.

Two each of the birds we have been discussing
plus a third with a longer tail eyeing a spider towards the bottom here.

The same bird seen in a tree of life coverlet in the collection of the Tryon Palace
Museum in New Bern, North Carolina. The pomegranates and florals are
related to the bird chintz with the spider.

But we are not going to digress into other birds (at least this week.)

Tomorrow the last post of four: Fabrics with the pomegranates, birds and spider.


  1. I wonder what the spider symbolises? Endurance, as in the Robert the Bruce story - if at first you don't succeed . . . Seems such a strange addition to the design.
    All very fascinating - looking forward to part 4, thank you.

  2. I think the spider symbolizes creativity.

  3. Thank you Pat - that does describe a spider and it's web most definitely! :D

  4. I understood that the spider meant good luck.

  5. Also good QuiltGranma - the saying goes "if you want to live and thrive, let a spider run alive" - or something like that - that was from my mum, but she must have been told that. I was the one who used to catch them and put them outside - big ones too - because she didn't like them. But I might not attempt that in other countries!

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