Monday, July 16, 2018

Botanizing #4: Pressed Leaves

Last year on my Civil War Quilts blog
one of the blocks was an autumn leaf.

The pattern is probably a sycamore leaf, drawn from a quilt in
the collection of the Los Angeles Museum of Art.

Leaf tracings are a form of botanizing we see in mid-19th century samplers.
1841-1844 Mary Taylor
Smithsonian Collection

But there aren't many samplers of leaves alone.
Top by Mary Stayman of Leavenworth, Kansas, dated 1923, 
in the collection of the Helen F. Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.
On the back of each leaf Mary wrote the species name in pencil.

New England leaves (about 1870) from the Binney Collection at
the New England Quilt Museum.

And then there's Ernestine Zaumseil's extravaganza:

Branches & Vines by Ernestine Eberhardt Zaumseil (1828-1904).
She was born in Germany and lived in Ohio, St. Louis, 
and Pekin, Illinois. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Now that is some attention to detail!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Botanizing #3: "I love to look at nature pure"

Applique sampler from the Indiana Project & the Quilt Index. This quilt from the 1840-1865 period is the same one that Marie Webster pictured in her 1915 book Quilts:Their Story on page 79.

Niether photo is great but we can see that the unknown
maker included blocks drawn from nature.

Webster's caption for "Original Floral Design":
"This quilt contains twenty blocks, each of a different design. The border is composed of festoons decorated with cockscomb and sprays of flowers. A southern Indiana quilt made about 1825."
That date is doubtful. We've now seen a lot more quilts 100 years later and most authorities would date it as mid-century. It's in a private collection and the project documentation notes that it's still in good shape.

Some of the blocks seem to have been drawn from plants.

See the Indiana Project file here:

Detail of an album sampler made for Rev. & Mrs. William George Eggleston
from the collection of Colonial Williamsburg

Botanical blocks are rather unusual. Here's a compound flower or fruit among the typical red and green blocks in a Maryland/Washington top dated 1844-1847. The botanical block is signed "E. R. Moore E[llicotts]. Mills"

Maybe E.R. Moore was depicting Pokeweed

Phytolacca americana

Another quiltmaker with a good eye for the natural world
from the Indiana Project. 

A wreath block on the Eggleston's quilts is inked:
"I love to look at nature pure,
I love to dwell on friendship's past,
And think it all forever sure
In one eternal rest at last.
Margaret Dushane Balt. '46"
Margaret illustrates the prevailing philosophy these quiltmakers embraced, a romantic view of nature with a reverence for the natural world, inspiring botanizing, poetry and applique florals.

Pressed moss

From the Sophia Denty album quilt in the Smithsonian.

And the Benoni Pearce quilt, also in that collection.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Botanizing #2: Floral Scrapbooks


Serratifolia is a Clematis vine

Shenandoah Valley Quilt by Esther (Ester) Blair Shaw Matthews (1776-1866)
Rockingham County, Virginia

Esther Matthews's 1858 quilt in the collection of the Virginia Quilt Museum is a remarkable example of a quilt inspired by the fashion for botanizing. She labeled each block with a floral identification.

Block labeled Star of the East
Although many of her blocks are classic applique
in stylized formats, others seem drawn from nature.

"Jacob's Ladder" probably refers to the plants on the sides, perhaps

Variegated Jacob's Ladder

One way to botanize was to keep a scrapbook of
pressed plants with identifications.

Rachel Van Dyke, a little younger than Esther, kept a diary in 1810 when she was 17. 
"As I was coming out of school Mr. G---handed me an acorn and told me it was something for me to botanize upon. 'Botanize upon an acorn....the man's a goose.' "

She soon discovered the hollow acorn contained a tiny poem.
'Well done...You are no Goose either who would have thought of such a contrivance.' "

I guess Mr. G was thought a goose at first because one cannot press an acorn into a scrapbook.

Herbarium with samples dated 1883

Rachel Littler Bodley (1831-1888) was a well-known botanist
photographed with the tools of her trade and an herbarium
on the floor.

The perfect gift for a young lady

Fiction in Godey's Lady's Book prescribed an herbarium for lonely "little Jemima, who, you must know, is a bit of a blue." A blue, a blue-stocking, was an intellectual.

Poet Emily Dickinson (a bit of a blue)  kept an herbarium when she was a school girl in Amherst, Massachusetts in the years 1839-1846. It's now at Harvard's Houghton Library, where they have scanned every page.

Anna Coates Shreve (1802-1897) seems to have transferred her scrapbook pages
to an applique quilt that is pictured in Hall & Kretsinger's book
Romance of the Patchwork Quilt

The Shelburne Museum has a quilt dated 1868 that owes more to
the look of an herbarium than to common applique layout.

The quilt was purchased from Florence Peto, who attributed it
to the Griswold family of Connecticut.

Block from Susan & Henry Underwood's sampler album
in the collection of the Smithsonian.

Reproduction quilts inspired by The Esther Matthews quilt are on display at the Virginia Quilt Museum through September 8, 2018.  Read more about Beyond the Valley curated by Doreen Johnson here:

 Rachel Van Dyke's diary has been published as Read My Heart: The Journal of Rachel Van Dyke, 1810-1811.

Tomorrow: more botanizing.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Botanizing #1: Quilts & the Natural World

Cotton Boll or Anthemion, classical imagery in quilt design
See a post about Anthemia here

Mid-19th century applique artists were inspired by many aspects of fine arts, folk arts and popular culture.

From the Connecticut project & the Quilt Index

 Laurel Wreath, a classical image signifying honor
and glory....

Self-appointed or not.

Typical floral image in Germanic colors, motifs and arrangement.

 Pennsylvania German candle box dated 1792

Painted detail from a Pennsylvania chest about the same time
from the Barnes Collection

From a Baltimore album quilt, Woodard & Greenstein photo

Newspaper masthead from Baltimore in 1846

Detail of a quilt in the Sharon Newman collection at
the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum

Some patterns became standards.

From the Kentucky project & the Quilt Index

While others seem one-of-a-kind, perhaps drawn from nature.

For the next few days we'll look at the influence of botanizing, a 19th-century
word for collecting and classifying plants, a popular women's hobby.