Published: March 6, 2007
An exhibition of more than 40 exceptional quilts from the Winterthur collection, many of which have never been publicly exhibited before, will go on display at the museum March 10⁓eptember 16.
“Quilts in a Material World: Selections from the Winterthur Collection” will showcase a broad range of quilts from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Centuries. The exhibition is drawn primarily from Winterthur’s collection of nearly 300 quilts.
“An extraordinary whitework quilt †a unique example of a quilted family coat of arms †made by Mary Remington of Warwick, R.I., and in 1815, is the heart of the show,” said Linda Eaton, curator of the exhibition and of textiles at Winterthur.
“Amazingly, a group of Mary’s letters survive that discuss her quilt and document other aspects of her life. They describe how Mary, her friends and her family were affected by political events, how they took part in a global economy, and how her village was involved in the birth of the American textile industry.”
Some quilts in the exhibition are interpreted through the stories they tell about women’s lives. Others are discussed in terms of the fabrics from which they were made.
Among the quilts on display are a quilt made circa 1805 by Martha Agry Vaughn, who pieced together more than 100 different fragments of English and Chinese dress silks to create an early and rare form of the framed medallion style quilt, one of only four known American examples; an 1827 quilt by Rebecca Scattergood Savery, who used 6,708 pieces of bright and fashionable printed cottons to create a stunning example of a sunburst quilt, whose design has been linked to the newly invented kaleidoscope; a late Eighteenth Century quilt, with a commemorative handkerchief in the center, that confirms women’s interest in politics; and an early Nineteenth Century, fully dressed miniature bed, complete with its hangings and bedding, which provides a rare opportunity to see a quilt in the broader context of early American interiors.
A book authored by Eaton, Quilts In A Material World: Selections from the Winterthur Collection (Abrams; March 2007; $40; ISBN 978-0-8109-3012-4) highlights part of the quilt collection at Winterthur.
Also coinciding with the quilts exhibition, Winterthur will host a conference, “Quilts In A Material World,” on March 31. Historic quilts from the United States, Britain and France; Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century women’s history and contemporary collecting are among the topics to be discussed at the one-day conference.
Presentations include: “Quilts in a Material World” by Eaton; “France’s Global Textile Trade in the Seventeenth through Nineteenth Centuries †Sometimes Legal, Often Contraband” by Kathryn Berenson, consultant and lecturer, France; “Piecing Women’s Lives: Researching Early American Women’s History” by Sarah Fatherly, associate professor of history, Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio.
Also, “Went to Mrs Brigg’s to draw a feather on a bedquilt: The Designs of New England’s Whole-Cloth Wool Quilts, 1730‱850” by Lynne Z. Basset, textile and costume historian, Massachusetts. “From Heritage to High Art: Quilt Collecting at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1920′007” by Amelia Peck, curator of American decorative arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art; and “At Home and at Work: Modern Settings for Antique Quilts” by Laura Fisher, Fisher Heritage Gallery.
Optional pre- and post-workshops will be offered on Friday, March 30, and Sunday, April 1. Topics to be discussed include the use of dress prints in quilts, the conservation and restoration of historic quilts, quilting techniques, historic fabrics, preserving quilters’ oral histories and researching female ancestors (Friday only). Workshops are offered twice each day, for an additional fee of $75 each. Conference registration is required to participate in the workshops. A guided tour, “Decorating with Quilts in the Period Rooms,” is also available for a $25 fee.
The conference registration fee, which includes Saturday lectures, lunch, evening reception, and weekend Garden & Galleries Pass, is $225; Members and professionals working for nonprofit organizations, $175; students with ID, $150. Each optional workshop is $75. To register, 800-448-3883, 302-888-4600 or TTY 302-888-4907.
For general information, www.Winterthur.org.
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