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Wholecloth Quilt
about 1787
Quiltmaker:Attributed to Asenath King , American, 1764 - 1859
Designer:Designed by Asenath King , American, 1764 - 1859
Hand-stitched, twill-woven glazed worsted, or calamanco; plain-woven wool; one ply worsted thread
Primary Dimensions (length x width): 91 1/2 x 87in. (232.4 x 221cm)
Credit Line: Gift of James Goldie
Gallery Copy: Eighteenth-century quilts were luxury items, constructed of expensive, imported textiles with surfaces constructed of full-width panels of fabric, seamed together vertically to create expanses of color and texture that were unrivaled among household furnishings. These “whole-cloth quilts” are distinguished from later, more familiar types, made by cutting fabrics up into pieces and reassembling them to create geometric or abstract shapes. Asenath King Rising’s whole-cloth quilt is made of calamanco, an English fabric prized for its glossy surface and rich, deep colors. When quilted, the surface becomes a sculptural relief.
Description: Wholecloth quilt consisting of a dark blue, calendered, twill-woven, wool, or calamanco, top, batting, and a plain-woven wool backing; these three layers have been hand-stitched together with one ply dark blue worsted thread in an elaborate quilted pattern in the rococo style. The quilted pattern consists of a column of abstract leaf and shell forms in the center flanked by a meandering vine with branches of leaves and abstract flowers emerging from it. This is surrounded on all four sides by a border of semi-circular and curved vines with leaves inside each vine. The background consists of a field of closely-stitched diagonal lines. The top consists of four panels of calamanco imported from England. The backing is constructed of plain-woven blue wool that was produced domestically. Condition: A cotton underlay has been stitched into areas of loss on the quilt. Small portions of the quilted pattern on the top of the quilt have been covered with sheer silk crepeline. Broad areas on the back have been covered with silk crepeline. The crepeline is applied over tears and worn areas in the wool.
Date Note: This quilt has traditionally been dated about 1784, presumably based on family history provided when the quilt was acquired in 1952 (any original documentation is no longer extant). Subsequent research has located Asenath Rising's marriage intention, dated 13 September 1787, in the West Springfield, Massachusetts marriage records. The quilt has accordingly been redated to about 1787, corresponding to the year of the maker's marriage. (Schoelwer 3/14/2008)
Object Number: 1952.76.0
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