The quilt is hanging in New York now at the American Folk Art Museum's Lincoln Center gallery in a show Made in New York City: The Business of Folk Art, curated by Elizabeth V. Warren. The show is up until July 28, 2019. Elizabeth has written a catalog, available in the Museum Shop.
Attributed to Lucinda Ward Honstain, a "tailoress" in New York City who lived in Brooklyn, the quilt is considered a unique piece of folk art, valuable for many reasons, one being the images of African-Americans and references to slavery and the Civil War.
In the talk I discussed Lucinda's personal life (two divorces in the family, a few neighborhood riots in Brooklyn concerning property division and the husband with some kind of personality disorder.)
The time is November, 1867.
Lucinda is in her late 40s.
Mother Lucinda, Daughter Emma and Grandson Hamilton, 2 years old, were living together in Brooklyn, possibly in this house. Son-in-law Hamilton Bingham Sr. may have been living there or on
his way to his next marriage, which took place in 1869.
I've discussed all the gossip in detail at posts last winter (scroll down to see a list) but in the talk I wanted to put the quilt itself in it's context--- in time and place. So here are some of my slides with details.
Lucinda Ward was born in the town of SingSing in Westchester County, New York in 1820. They changed the name to Ossining due to unpleasant associations with their prison by the same name. She spent her adult life in Brooklyn but probably continued to visit family in Westchester County.
Westchester County and New York State in general seems to have been
a hot bed of sampler quilt making during the 1850-1880 period.
There are Baltimore-style samplers and Carolina-style samplers but nobody
has defined New York Style samplers. Lucinda's quilt fits quite well into that category.
Collection of the Brooklyn Museum
One style characteristic is that the blocks are set on the straight and they are often sashed
with strips of plain Turkey red (no cornerstones.)
Quilt dated 1857, attributed to Ossining,
Another striking design choice is the pictorial imagery,
If there's a horse in it, it's a New York quilt.
Lucinda's quilt has a couple of horses. This block with a woman
in a red dress riding side saddle was recalled as a picture of daughter Emma
Bingham, a family story that Melissa Jurgena heard when she interviewed
Lucinda's great-great granddaughter in 2001 for an article in the Folk Art Museum's journal.
The image is probably drawn from a Currier print, The Pride of America....
which seems to have inspired other New York quilters.
Some New Yorkers, including Lucinda, liked to give their animals
and humans green grass to stand on---A horizon line.
If there's a cow in it it's a New York Quilt.
Another minor characteristic (but quite consistent) is the use of small motifs in the corners of their blocks.
When the blocks are set all over (without the red sashing) those corner images make an effective secondary pattern. Quilt on the right is another Honstain quilt at IQSCM
You see it over and over in New York quilts.
Quilters in other regions also used this trick, but it seems New Yorkers were loathe to leave the corners empty.
Many of Lucinda's blocks have naturalistic leaves in the corners,
which would have made interesting secondary designs
had she set the blocks side by side.
But that red sashing must have been compelling.
Tulip in two Honstain family quilts at IQSCM
One more style signature is this tulip/lily design.
Again a feature in New York albums and samplers.
It's fascinating how distinctive the New York sampler/albums are
and how Lucinda's fits in.
Tomorrow: one more New York quilt from 1867.