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.
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.