Quilt: Pot of Flowers with Wild Geese (American, 1950s)

Quilt: Pot of Flowers with Wild Geese (American Early 1950s). Cotton plain weave, printed; appliquéd and quilted. By Florence Cowden Peto (American, 1881 – 1970, Tenafly, NJ). Gift of the Peto family (2017.3913). Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Recent additions to our outstanding collection of quilts are nine very fine examples created during the 1950s by Florence Cowden Peto, gifted to the MFA by her family, and considered to be the best of the few quilts that she made.

“Florrie” Peto’s quilts are emblematic of the Colonial Revival movement, which had its roots in the late 19th century—a time when Americans waxed nostalgic for the simpler times of pre-industrialized colonial America. Peto maintained a personal interest in textile research, and used historic fabrics in her quilts, such as printed chintz. She made her first quilt in 1926 at age 45,  and continued to create into her 70s. Notwithstanding her creativity, her quilt making practice went hand-in-hand with her scholarship about historic quilts and her active engagement as a designer, teacher, author, historian and lecturer.

The “wild geese” that Peto appliquéd on the quilt shown above is a classic pattern inspired by the seasonal migrations of geese, one that lent itself to numerous variations, as evidenced in this pieced Civil War era quilt.

Click for description and collection data on mfa.org


Object a Week is a revolving showcase of the MFA’s textile collections. A featured object may be indicative of the author’s study focus at a given moment in time and/or related to topics of research, activity, or recent acquisitions in the Museum’s Textile and Fashion Arts department

3 thoughts on “Quilt: Pot of Flowers with Wild Geese (American, 1950s)

  1. I have just recently discovered quilting, via several workshops on textile dyeing-mostly peopled by quilters. It has opened up a whole new world for me, especially as I think about women’s work, cooperation and often making something from (almost) nothing. This quilt seems quite intentional, but all the same, your subject objects are fascinating. Thanks for yet another one, Catherine!

    1. Thanks for your comments Suzanne. I had the great pleasure of accompanying our Assistant Curator Jennifer Swope on a courier trip to collect the nine quilts from Florence Peto’s great granddaughter. The reverence she had for these quilts was very moving. There’s more I’d like to write about the life and work of “Florrie” Peto, so stay tuned!

    2. And how exciting to have a new textile dimension open up for you through quilts!

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