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American Quilts at the Georgia Museum of Art

August 19 - November 19, 2006

 

(above: Attributed to the Sewing Society of the First Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Presentation quilt (detail), c. 1847, cotton, 108 x 93 inches. Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; gift of Valerie Rankin Murphey. GMOA 2002.58)

 

American Quilts at the Georgia Museum of Art, an exhibition celebrating the museum's dedication to building an important collection of decorative arts with a focus on works made in or of significance to Georgia, will be on display from August 19 through November 19, 2006.

Quilts, because of their size and fragility, can be difficult to incorporate into traditional installations of the museum's permanent collection galleries. This exhibition provides, for the first time, an opportunity to display together the quilts in the museum's collection.

There will be a range of quilts on display, including formal presentation quilts from the mid-19th century as well as casual, informal quilts with brightly stitched names from the mid-20th century.

These textiles include a chintz applique quilt, also known as a Broderie Perse quilt. It contains 30 squares hand-inscribed in ink with patriotic text, expressions of friendship, passages from the Bible and, most predominantly, verses relating to death and mourning.

The quilt is attributed to the Sewing Society of the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia. This society was founded in 1839 to "assist pious young men in the preparation for the gospel ministry, by furnishing them with clothing, and also to promote social and religious intercourse among the members of the church and congregation."

It appears to have been made for Frances Henrietta Holcombe Tucker Hoff, who was the daughter of Rev. Henry Holcombe, who served as pastor at First Baptist Church of Philadelphia. With her first husband, Germaine Tucker of Warren County, Georgia, she had a son named Henry Holcombe Tucker who would later become a Baptist minister and served as president of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, from 1866 to 1871 and then chancellor of the University of Georgia from 1874 to 1878.

Another presentation quilt, originally belonging to Joseph Cummings, the former president of Northwestern University, is composed of 42 silk blocks, all handstitched by different women.

The quilt probably dates back to the mid-1840s, about the time Cummings left his role as principal at Amenia Seminary in New York and entered the New England Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Either event could have been the occasion for the presentation of this unique gift.

American Quilts at the Georgia Museum of Art is organized by Ashley Callahan, curator of the Henry D. Green Center for the Study of the Decorative Arts at the Georgia Museum of Art.

 

(above: Unknown makers (American, possibly New York), Presentation quilt , c. 1850s, silk with cotton batting, 72 x 85 1/2 inches. Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; gift of Martha Earnest Bonbright. GMOA 2001.68)

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