Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Panel #5 Part 3: Style Old World and New

Quilt from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts featuring Panel #5
the Fruit Basket design.

The caption indicates that little is known about this lovely spread. They estimate the date as about 1830 and the place of origin as middle Atlantic States.

Spreads with frames of chintz around panel #5 are quite common at that time and in that place.

Margaret Seyle Burgess 
Charleston Museum, a gift from her great-great granddaughter in 2010.

Attributed to Sarah Eliza Reynolds Croft (c. 1790-1859),
 gift of her granddaughter in 1928.
Charleston Museum
114" x 114" square

Attributed to the Boyle sisters, Petersburg, Virginia
Colonial Williamsburg

This gorgeous spread is from the family of
Anna Berwick Legare O'Hear  (1825-1905)
Charleston, South Carolina

Look at that serpentine stripe!

Her maiden name is inked on the reverse.
See more at Winterthur Museum's online catalog.
Do a search for Legare
(Pronounced LaGree)

From the Arizona project and the Quilt Index

Another beautiful example, this one photographed way out west with no information on the source. It's in Lenna DeMarco's collection.

We can guess it was made along the Atlantic coast from Baltimore south. Most museum curators, collectors and dealers feel pretty good about that location and a loose date of 1825-1850 with these chintz appliqued panel medallion bedcovers.

Photographed in Sumter County, South Carolina for Gladys
Marie Fry's book Stitched from the Soul, 1990.

The family story on this beauty said that the group of quilts were made by " 'sewing women'---slaves that were specially trained to do quilting."  We'd imagine many of these chintz spreads were quilted and finished by enslaved seamstresses.

The chain stripe cut from this popular print

Many of the American quilts featuring Panel #5 conform to a formula in the layout: Framed fruit basket in the center with borders of unpieced chintz (often a stripe) and appliqued chintz vignettes.

Which is why this piece with a similar look seems so out of place in London.

It was pictured in the 1991 book The American Quilt Story by Susan Jenkins and Linda Seward, in the inventory of the Antique Textile Company of London (in its early incarnation.) The caption tells us it is English but it looks so much like the quilts above that it's confusing.

British seamstresses did use the fruit panel, which was undoubtedly wood-block printed in England, but often in different fashion. Below two classic British quilts featuring panel #5.

Quilters' Guild Collection

In each of these pieced bedcovers the panel is featured in the center but a supporting cast of prints vies for our attention

Jane Lury's inventory, includes Panel #7 as well as #5.

The overall style is just as distinctive as the American chintz appliques. Supporting prints might be characterized as busy or textured with the look of Indiennes, inspired by classic Indian pattern. Patchwork is simple with a few wide frames in contrasting shades. 

Pattern of sorts for a British frame panel quilt based on Jane's quilt.
Ever larger nine-patches.

Bill Volckening's photo of a Baltimore spread. 
The background is a textured weave.

The most obvious differences between the British style and the American are (1) less emphasis on applique in Britain and (2) the white background in the U.S. Background fabric in the American bedcovers were sometimes a complex woven pattern rather than a plain-weave cotton.

Wooley & Wallis auctioneers in England
The four smaller panels are #15

Crib quilt 38" x 40" from an American online auction
There's not much to go on here but this quilt located in the U.S.
certainly has more in common with British quilts than with American.

We don't want to go too far in saying there is a definite British style and a definite American style

From an old Quilt Engagement Calendar (Panel #36)

But some bedcovers look British...
Some American.

Collection of the Greensboro (North Carolina) Historical Society

(Panel #3) Photo from Ellen Eanes
Note the inner border stripe is the same chain print as in the Sumter County,
South Carolina quilt above.

We have set up a style dichotomy and, of course, there are exceptions
which we will address in the next post.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Panel #5 Part 2--Using Fabric Efficiently

Panel bedcover from the Wallace/Stevenson families
 Richburg, Chester County, South Carolina.
National Museum of American History, Smithsonian.
 "A type often found in the Carolinas."

The center of this medallion shows an efficient use of Panel #5
the fruit basket.

The maker cut up one panel, using the parts to compose her piece. She stitched the basket in the center, four corners in the corners and cut the scallop frame into four pieces to be rearranged.

She also had a dozen smaller panels (#17) and cut out the bouquets with lilies.

Panel #17
Same panel (the quilt photo may be flipped over)

The Wallace/Stevenson piece is an impressive bedcover designed by a clever seamstress without a lot of printed fabric or a lot of applique work. Here's a link:

Here's a variation on the same theme---panel parts used efficiently. In this one the scallops and panel corners frame the basket.
Four copies of  Panel # 7 fill in the space.

Quilt attributed to Sarah Alexander Harris Gilmer  (1806-1832)
Cabarrus County, North Carolina, pictured in 
The North Carolina Quilts book

No wasted chintz, no leftovers from one panel.

North Carolina Museum of History, from the MacMillan family

One the other hand, this North Carolina quilt had several leftover pieces.

5 Panel Centers
11 frames - 1 complete, 10 quartered
18 corners

Missing Parts
6 quartered frames
2 corners

Winterthur Museum has another variation on using the panel parts--- curved scallops from the frame are reversed, a more graceful composition. They have no information posted about this quilt but odds are good it is from a Carolina family.

The corners use the pieces of Panel #12 in the same way---
its frame cut away and then expanded to fill more space

Panel #12 and its frame

Commercial production of stitched or basted panels would explain the abundance of panel corners and frames we see in some of these Carolina quilts. The efficiency of these distinctive arrangements seems to point to the planning of an efficient businesswoman.

The Mint Museum has a quilt attributed to Rocinda Winslow Wilson,
shown in Ellen Eanes article on Mecklenberg Quilts in Uncoverings

Rocinda's quilt looks far more labor intensive. It would be hard to make a living selling this much handwork with all those pieced stars and pieced border. Perhaps some hobbyist bought the center and framed it with her own ideas.

Collection of the Charleston Museum

The bedcover attributed to Hannah Noland Henderson features Panel #3, the trophy of arms in the center. Smaller oval panels are #6 and #32. The larger triangular pieces are all corners from Panel #5, the fruit basket. The maker had 14 corners, the leftovers from 4 fruit baskets, which she did not use in this quilt. What did she do with the 4 central baskets?
Williams family, Charleston Museum of Art

Make another quilt and sell it to someone else?

Collection of the New England Quilt Museum.

This quilt features the Princess Charlotte panel framed in the scalloped wreath from panel #5---the only parts of #5 in this particular quilt, which is probably English.

Collection of the Atlanta History Center

The presence of so much "cabbage"---left over scraps---from various panels does imply that the makers had access to a good deal of surplus panel parts. It's the type of fabric use one might see in a workshop producing numerous related pieces rather than in one individual hobbyist's sewing basket.

In Baltimore as well as in the Carolinas.

The Lassotovitch family spread from Baltimore

Our looking at the quilts, particularly those made from Panel #5, has led us to believe that many were produced by commercial workshops.

Ad in the Baltimore Pilot, 1840
"Just finished, a large supply of Comfortables, an excellent article for the approaching winter...."
This stock of warm bedding would not be what we are talking about.

After years of reading advertisements, fair records, diaries and letters we have yet found no mention of such places, but the bedcovers provide the evidence.

Looking at the photos of the Baltimore panel medallions in Dunton's book brings up another question. What happened to all the fruit panel corners and frames in Baltimore?

Plenty of parts but no fruit frames or corners

The DAR Museum's bedcover from the Volckening family

Floating peaches and pineapples from the corners.
One of the few Baltimore uses of the corners.

They must have done something with the scalloped frames and
corners. You don't throw out good chintz.

More careful cutting with Panel #2

Margaret Selena Perkins (1808-1883)
MESDA Collection

Margaret's quilt has a unique solution to the cutting corners issue.

It's a fruit tree.

Collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum

Sometimes you get the idea the artist is just not as good at choosing, cutting and composing as other seamstresses.The parts are in the quilt above--- but there may be just too many. She should have left some in the cabbage basket.

See a post on the old-fashioned term cabbage for sewing scraps here: