Quilt: Feathered Diamond (American, 1890s)

Pennsylvania, Landis Valley (Lancaster). Pieced cotton plain weave top, printed cotton plain weave back; quilted. Frank B. Bemis Fund, John H. and Ernestine A. Payne Fund, Elizabeth M. and John F. Paramino Fund in memory of John F. Paramino, Boston Sculptor, Helen B. Sweeney Fund, Mary L. Smith Fund, Textile Income Purchase Fund, Joyce Arnold Rusoff Fund, and Alice J. Morse Fund (2014.1858). Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The “feathered,” or “sawtooth” piecework along the edges of the diamond and framing square of this quilt, a composition that repeats with variation in many Amish quilts (see Framed Diamond in a Square), adds to the vibratory interaction between two complementary colors of equal intensity. With the development of synthetic dyes during the third quarter of the 19th century, by the late 1880s and 1890s textile manufacturers were producing a greater variety of bright and colorfast fabrics such as the richly saturated green and pink cotton used on this quilt. This Featured Diamond quilt was acquired from the Pilgrim/Roy Collection and shown in the 2014 exhibition, Quilts and Color at the MFA, Boston. Collectors Paul Pilgrim and Gerald Roy, influenced by the color theories of Josef Albers and the modernist art movement, saw these quilts as embodying the same types of creative choices and thought processes made by women who sought to express themselves within the confines of social acceptance and religious belief in their conservative communities.

Click for description and collection data on mfa.org

Objects in Brief is a randomized showcase of the MFA, Boston’s encyclopedic Textile and Fashion Arts collections. A featured object is indicative of the author’s curiosity and chosen so she may learn about its material and structural properties, function, history, and greater story. These “quick studies” have led to more in-depth explorations posted in A Closer Look.

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