Quilts and Stitching in Art

Okay, I had a fun time in Washington, DC this spring once I realized I could play I Spy and look for quilts.  I think this is a good game that I should keep playing, and if you have a picture of a quilt in art — whether it be in a painting or a photograph in a museum — send it over and when I get a slew, I’ll do a post.

Bishop_ Sewing2

Okay, this isn’t technically quilting, but it’s stitching.  This is a detail of Mending, by Isabel Bishop and hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.  She writes “I have noticed regular denizens of [Union] Square [in New York City] who, sitting on the benches or on the fountain, easting, sewing or rearranging their worldly good in paper bundles, seem to be leading the most private of lives, entirely oblivious to the public character of the place.  The not-beautiful forms of the fountain seem. . . to make a throne for the old man sewing his trousers; he is billowing old overcoat [becomes] a robe.”

Bishop_Sewing

Elias Howe Pillow

This is a needlepoint stitchery in the gallery of the Washington National Cathedral that honors the 100 Most Famous Americans, all who have a red needlepoint pillow on a chair. Of course I was drawn to this one, honoring Elias Howe, inventor of the modern-day sewing machine.  We ALL owe him a debt.

Freckelton_Harvest1

Sondra Freckelton’s Harvest is one of her still lives that capture “the quiet beauty of domestic, often feminized objects — quilts, garden implements, house wares, and fresh produce gathered from her own garden in the . . . Catskill Mountains.”  I don’t know about you, but I was interested that a Smithsonian label-writer plopped in that phrase of “domestic, often feminized objects” when discussing Freckelton’s watercolor.  Don’t tell our male quilters this.

Freckelton_Harvest2

And I knew she wasn’t herself a quilter, for who of us would plop down vegetables on top of this gorgeous appliqué quilt?

Pieced Quilt_Fletcher_1

Mary Fletcher was born in 1940 and died in 1922, but her fine hand-pieced hexie silk quilt now resides in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.  We are all jealous!

Pieced Quilt_Fletcher_2

I decided she had an amazing scrap bag to have so many beautiful silks to work with.

Pieced Quilt_Fletcher_3

Pieced Quilt_Fletcher_4

Sharrer_Tribute all

And lastly, Honore Sharrer’s Tribute to the American Working People, who employed the polyptych format of medieval paintings to pay homage to the working people of America.

Sharrer_Tribute quilt

And here’s the quilt–in the upper left panel: a lovely scalloped Dresden Plate.

6 thoughts on “Quilts and Stitching in Art

  1. A great game to play. Love the applique quilt in the photo and you can see the vegetables seem to be washed, so not to worry. I invite you to link to Hexie Weekend to show off that great hexie silk quilt.

  2. Now that I am newly a quilter, so much that I see seems like a pattern just waiting to be figured out. Not by me, not yet. But still, I love how the ordinary is transformed. The artists you chose, Elizabeth, see in a transforming way. I’m amazed at how Mary Fletcher’s blue plaid has the black ribbons weaving around the center. It would be so easy to walk past that quilt and miss the details.

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