Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Quilts as depicted in paintings

Also in the November 2008 issue of The Magazine Antiques is an article on genre painter Seymour Joseph Guy which includes this 1867 painting called Making a Train. If you click on the picture, you will easily see why this painting caught my eye.

Advances in photography have made it possible for quilts and quilting to be well documented in the 20th & 21st century. It is rarer to find photographs showing quilts prior to 1900. These often show up as staged backdrops or as part of a family's treasures being recorded along with family members. I don't know how often quilts showed up in paintings though, so I was interested to study the pattern here and the details of the fabrics as rendered in this oil painting. I just wish I could see what's going on in the center of the quilt!

It's much easier these days to find quilts featured in paintings and prints, thanks to the popularity of quilting itself. Diane Phalen is one of my favorite artists specializing in this (her work available in prints, notecards & calendars), but there are many more. Google "quilts/paintings" and you will see just how much is out there right now.


Wil Opio Oguta said...

There are sarcophagus found with 'culcita's'(the original version of the quilt) dating back to the 2nd century. Restaured clothing goes back to the 14th century. The V&A has a quilt made around 1400. Paintings of quilts are also found from 1400 on.
I know this because I had to do quilthistory research for my c&g diploma course (grin)

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, Wil for this additional information. I was aware of how far back the actual making of quilts goes, but had no idea they'd been captured in paintings for such a long time. Any examples you can share?


I shall put my mind to this one, but I can't think of a single picture off hand which is very lame of me. Have you tried asking Olga (Threading Thoughts) as she is very up on the art thing!! As for how old quilts are - I think I may have mentioned this before - the earliest I've come across is about 4,000BC (!!) on a mummy in Egypt. Bits of the fabric were still plainly visible which is so encouraging, and which I tell everyone about, when they go on about why no one buys textiles because they don't last.