Friday, August 31, 2018

English Applique #2: Unconfined Applique in Prussian Blue

Quilt #1
The last post discussed the techniques and style in this quilt
with a date of 1867 or 1869 and the name Mary Eliza
Trowbridge or Crowbridge in the IQSCM collection.

I have a small photo file of  similar quilts, some attributed to England. 
Some are now in the U.S. but I would imagine they are also of English origin.

Quilt #2. In the U.S.
Private Collection.

Here is one about which little is known. It's unquilted patchwork with an appliqued alphabet and the
date 1845.

Same color palette as Mary Eliza's with many Prussian blue prints
in applique that appears to be secured with cross stitch.

Similar patterns: Simple animals such as dogs, birds and horses plus
human figures. Note the pitcher.

Quilt #3
Another pitcher among humans and animals.
You may be familiar with this piece as it's in the collection
of the Victoria & Albert Museum and has been well publicized.
Kaffe Fassett published a pattern.

The V&A caption for T.86-1957 indicates they know little about it. In 1957 Mrs. E. A. Hunt of Wrotham, Kent donated it on behalf of the West Kent Federation of Women's Institute.

Here's a link to their cataloguing information:

Perhaps the women at the West Kent WI, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, could tell us more about Mrs. Hunt and the quilt. Somebody run right over there.

Quilt #4 below is in the collection of the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.

Quilt with a border of marching soldiers
Shelburne Museum

Florence Peto, the collector who found this quilt, was sure it was an American Civil War souvenir, but I find that hard to believe. It looks English to me in style and is more likely to be commemorating the English Crimean War of the 1850s.

I bet the female figure in the center is Florence Nightingale,
the famous nurse, the Lady with the Lamp of the Crimean War.

In this layered photo the lighter Shelburne's Florence Nightingale figure is compared
to two female figures in the IQSC piece.

Read a post I wrote about the Shelburne's quilt here:

When we looked at Mary Eliza's quilt at IQSCM we noted the cataloging information indicated it was from Wisconsin. This may indeed be true but I doubt it was made in Wisconsin. We considered the possibilities: 
  • Mary was from England and made the quilt in Wisconsin. 
  • Mary's mother was from England and taught Mary to make an English style applique in Wisconsin. 
Upon reflection and finding such similar pieces I have to think Mary made the quilt in England (if indeed she made the quilt---it just might have been her quilt) . Details of aesthetics in style and techniques do not easily cross an ocean so intact.

Tomorrow: More related quilts.


  1. Women do take quilts with them when they move from country to country. In my Japanese home is a quilt made by my great grandmother, living in Ohio, having crossed the mountains from Mass. in an ox-drawn wagon.

  2. Is T.86-1957 unconfined applique? It seems quite symmetrical, even if the motifs are not identical on each half.

    Three anchors represent a journey, a coastal location or Faith? Is that quadruped with lowered head a bull or an American bison? Bactrian camels, seals, elephant and swan indicate a world traveler or an imaginative stay-at-home reader? Are the two gaudy prints of the white marble statue "The Greek Slave" a commentary on Greek/Turkish conflict and/or the issue of slavery in the USA or a swipe at the kitschy nature of that popular sculpture? Could the chintz center be a poke at traditional appliqué?

    What freedom, spontaneity, humor in unconfined appliqué....

  3. I see a kettle in the #2 and a crown. Very interesting indeed. Like a life on cotton. Thank you for these. London Zoo opened in the late 1820's so possibly the strange foreign animals were of interest to those who journeyed around the country attending society balls?

  4. Oh, and Unconfined #2 with the subdued colors, hands and amorphous shapes and animals somehow reminds me of cave art.

  5. Barbara - here are the possibilities - they were on the 1870 Census I researched in Ancestry:

    1. Mary Eliza Trowbridge, seems to be a common name in WI ca 1870. However, none born in England, although most are married women and not easy to trace parentage. Those old enough to be quilting (older then 10) with parents do not have English parents.

    2. There is a Mary Mary Corbridge living in Philadelphia who was born in England ca 1810. She is with who I assume is her daughter and son-in-law.

    3. There is an Eliza Corbridge born in England living in Chicago with husband and son.

    4. No other Mary Trowbridge/Corbridge born in England.

    There are more Mary Trow/Crow/Corbridge in England than you can shake a stick at! My best guess would be the Mary in Philadelphia - her children and grand children could easily have carried that quilt with them as they moved west.

  6. Loved seeing the V&A quilt - it's my favorite of this style!

  7. As a really old-school nurse, I love the thought of Florence Nightingale on a quilt!