Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Early Dated Cut-Out Chintz Tree of Life Quilt?

Baltimore Museum of Art
About 109" square
1982 Gift of William L. Reed, Lutherville, Maryland, in Memory of Barbara Garrett Reed

This quilt has been intriguing me for years.

I first saw it in William S. Dunton's 1946 book Old Quilts
where Dr. D writes:
"Tree of Life quilt...by Elizabeth Stouffer in 1809 and was the seventh of a series. This was nine years before her marriage to Robert Garrett...[A later] Robert Garrett the present owner."

Elizabeth Stouffer Garrett (1791-1877)
by Oliver Tarbell Eddy who painted portraits in
Baltimore during the 1840s.

 Impressive work to have made at least 7 quilts at the age of 18. This cut-out chintz medallion quilt is one the earliest date-inscribed examples of Broderie Perse in my files. 

Few applique quilts inscribed before 1810 survive.
I went back to Dunton's book and saw he took a photo of the date.

In cross stitch on the backing
"The lining is coarse, 30 threads to the inch, making the 
process of padding moderately easy."

It seems quite obvious to me today that whoever finished this quilt used an old sheet, possibly linen, to back the patchwork top. Elizabeth's initials with date and a number are very typical laundry marking on household textiles at the time. Girls learned the counted cross-stitch alphabet for that purpose.

Linen sheet marked 1745, Colonial Williamsburg
Linen sheets are durable. One could imagine someone using
this as a quilt backing a century later---and then we'd think
we had an American patchwork quilt from 1745---but we'd be wrong.

Elizabeth probably had six other sheets 1-6 and maybe numbers 8 and 9. Dunton notes that he also saw a "white woven coverlet which had the owner's date 1812, cross stitched on it and that this coverlet also belonged to Elizabeth Stouffer and bore her initials," but showed no photo.

Elizabeth mid-19th-century
From her FindaGrave site

He also pictured a quilt "made by Ann Stouffer and owned by Mr. Gilman D'Arcy Paul." 

"Made by Elizabeth's sister, Ann of the same design. Even measurements are the same."  Dr. D.

He doesn't give a date estimated or inscribed for this very similar quilt with the same borders, applique of similar fabric and stuffed quilting.

One quilt superimposed upon the other.

When laid one atop the other they are indeed of the same measurements, rather remarkably so.
He tells us the quilting designs are different as is fabric in the triangles and Ann's is a more sophisticated tree. Here we have one more example of duplicate (and more multiples) made in Baltimore and vicinity, indicating either very industrious Maryland hobbyists or very industrious professional needlework shops. 

MESDA has a schoolgirl sampler by Ann Tinges Stouffer in their collection.

The relationship between Elizabeth Stouffer and Ann Stouffer is actually that of sisters-in-law. Elizabeth Ann Clair Tinges Stouffer (1790-1864) married Elizabeth's brother Jacob Stouffer in 1816. (Just to add to the plot they begot another Anna Clare Stouffer (1832-1892) who married a man named William White.)

I am tempted to go on about the Stouffers and the Garretts but the point (I remember now) is that the tree-of-life chintz applique quilt with the date 1809 cross-stitched on the reverse is NOT the earliest dated tree of life chintz quilt. The backing is a dated sheet. We have to guess the date of the patchwork top and I'd go for the 1820s when similar quilts begin to become popular.

Sarah Gilmer's 1826 quilt from the North Carolina project.

I feel I have resolved the contradiction between style and the 1809 date, but
now I have a new mystery to pursue. Why did Ann Stouffer and her sister-in-law
Elizabeth Stouffer have two such similar quilts?

The conventional wisdom would be that the well-to-do women worked together on them... but I am not buying that anymore, especially in Baltimore. I think these were purchased luxury items from a professional workshop and Baltimore was a center of such manufacture in the years 1820-1860. Charleston was another.

Perhaps the Stouffer households did the quilting, using one of Elizabeth's linen sheets for a backing on hers. The whole question of all these multiple quilts from Frederick to Baltimore is quite a conundrum. The old answers just don't work. Old answer: Someone stitched one for each of her children.

New answer?

Read more about quilts with dated sheets on the reverse.


Friday, August 27, 2021

AQSG Quilt Study: Framed Center/Medallion Quilts


Mini Me by Wendy Caton Reed
Wendy's interpretation of a quilt in her collection for
the 2021 American Quilt Study Group's Quilt Study.

The Quilt Study show was a highlight of the AQSG Seminar last week
in Virginia.

 You may still get a chance to see the spectacular show of
small versions of large quilts over the next three years as many of
the entries will be traveling.

Some of the inspiration quilts in public collections were quite familiar.
Here is Sheryl Low's interpretation of Sophonisba Peale's
medallion in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The rules asked for quilt studies no larger than 42 inches square.

Eagle Medallion Revisited by Sandra Starley

Some of the entrants used their own collection for a source.

Sandra has two of these....Well, now three.

Jill Meszaros, Lee Martin Ellsworth & Taryn Faulkner organized the Quilt Study this time and did a great job as did the entrants. I didn't get pictures of everything ---or even half, but there will be a book with the traveling exhibit.

Windmill Blades by Nancy Ostman

Lisa Wagner with her Birds in Paradise

A phenomenal version of the Garden quilt seen in
Emporia, Kansas in the 1930s.

Leah A. Zieber's Solstice Supernova
from Janet O'Dell's collection

Kathy Anderson's English Medallion
from the International Quilt Museum collection.

Joanne Florence's Feathered Star Crib Quilt from 
Sandy Sutton's collection.

Amelia's Legacy by Joan Duncan, from the D.A.R. Museum's
Amelia Lauck quilt. 
Original is 112 inches wide. 
Look at the small-scale quilting!

Florence McConnell's Radiant Rose appliqued medallion is in her collection.

Donna Starley's Around the Sampler was inspired by one
in her own collection.

Cathy Woodson's A Star in My Perse

Kay Butler and Kelly Kout interpreted a panel quilt
in Polly Mello's collection.

Blair W. Mahan's Copp Family Quilt from the Smithsonian's Collection.

Annette Burgess's Ode to Hewson was inspired by one in
the Winterthur Museum

And some wonderful repro fabric from Andover a few years ago.

Recycling is Not New by Anita B. Loscalzo
from a quilt in her collection

That once belonged to Terry Thompson and then to me....

A beautiful job!

Some Prussian blues in the original (which is quite worn.)

The 2021 Quilt Study Exhibit will travel. Do ask your local museum or quilt show to borrow it over the next few years. It's a delight.