Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Botanical Quilts Exhibition - Charleston, South Carolina (Part 1)

In all my planning for my trip I somehow missed the notice for this exhibition so very many thanks to Lisa over at Stray Threads, otherwise I would have most probably missed this small, but wonderful exhibit during my visit to Charleston where it was staged at the Charleston Museum.

The Charleston Museum
Unfortunately, all of the quilts were hung behind glass and were not all completely hung to see, but I spent a really enjoyable, and cool, two hours studying the quilts. Here are just a few of the 172(!) photographs I took that afternoon. The overhead lighting was quite subdued so some of the photographs came out darker despite my playing with the camera controls. Enjoy!

Gracy Drummond's (1777 - 1847) Floral Chintz Applique Album Quilt

c.1844 -45

Eason Block

Close-up of Gracy Drummond's Quilt
Forty-one blocks set on point. Whilst all the blocks have different names on them, it is thought that the workmanship is of one-person. Gracy Drummond's name appears in the centre floral wreath with the date "December 4th, 1845/aged 66 years". The two recipient's names each appear in the two wreaths above Gracy's block. They were "Margaret Thompson Banks 1844" and "James Monroe Eason 1844" who were married in Charleston on March 23rd, 1847. All of the other blocks have been signed by family members.

1885 Chintz Applique Album Coverlet - made by ladies of Pinopolis, SC

1885 Chintz Album Coverlet

Close-up of 1885 Chintz Album Quilt
A comparitively late chintz quilt composed of 30 blocks. Many of the blocks are signed in ink or embroidery. The signatures probably represent friends and family of Rene Ravenel and his wife Maria Stevens Jervey who lived at Pooshee Plantation in Pinopolis at the time.

Trophy of Arms Chintz Pieced Quilt, c.1815 - probably made by Mary Withers Read
Trophy of Arms c. 1815
The centre medallion

Close-up of 1815 Trophy of Arms Quilt

The centre medallion shows a number of pieces of equipment used in hunting - a shield, arrows and horn. Interstingly none of the chintz was cut up, but used in its entirety. to form a series of borders. The whole has been quilted using an overlapping fan design.
Mary Withers Read was the wife of John Harleston Read (1788 - 1858); she died in 1820. It descended within the family who donated it to the museum and is thought to have been made by Mary based on the date of the fabrics.

Chintz Applique Album Quilt Top c.1847 - 1848 - made by family and friends of the Chapman family Blackville and Charleston, South Carolina

Chapman Family Album Quilt Top c.1847 -1848

Close-up of block

Close-up of another block

Made of 36 squares the top was never completed. Only 15 of the squares are signed and dated. The bold floral piecs were very popular during the 1840's.

Mary Louisa Schirmer's chintz pieced and appliqued crib quilt - late 19th century

Chintz applique and pieced crib quilt

A variation of a log cabin quilt, with a block of chintz or a tiny piece of appliqued chintz in the centre of each block. Mary Louisa (1852 - 1941), was the daughter of Jacob Frederick Schirmer and Mary Margaret Bachman of Charleston. Mary Louisa married Otto Tiedeman, a Charleston grocer.

Aiken Basket of Flowers Chintz Applique Quilt - c.1840

Aiken quilt c.1840
Close-up of centre basket

Close-up of wreath in border
Described as the "quintessential Charleston chintz applique quilt", the maker is unknown. The central basket is made from a vine print and the circular border around the basket is made from a pieced floral vine. Around the outer border are four appliqued wreaths each with a print of an architectural ruin inside.

Tree of Life Applique Quilt c.1833 - probably made by Margaret Eliza Darley Seyle Burges

Burges Quilt c.1833

Close-up of top right corner and border

Close-up of peacock
The base of tree is a mound of flowers with peacocks sitting to the left and right. It is marked in blue cross-stitch on the back with "Burges/Dec 1833". The border is a large chintz appliqued cut out on a printed floral background. The tree is composed on a number of appliqued cut-outs from different chintz fabrics and include large hollyhocks as well as the palm trees.

Margaret (1804-1877) was the daughter of Samuel Seyle and Mary Susannah Wesner from Charleston. She married James Burges jr. in 1829 and the quilt was passed down through the family before being donated to the museum by her great grand-son in 2010.

That's part 1!  I hope you have enjoyed the show! It has taken me a few days to upload these, so I'll publish the remaining quilts in part 2 later this week.


  1. Fiona - magnificent!! What an absolute treat it must have been for you to see these gems in person. I would love to! (Alas, Sydney is too far away) Thank you for the lovely virtual show and your detailed commentary. Was there a catalogue that accomapnied the exhibition?

  2. Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful exhibition. It's breathtaking and your photos are lovely. Ady

  3. What a wonderful exhibition! Thanks for sharing the pictures and I'm glad you got to see it.

  4. Beautiful photos! Thank you so much for including the comments and history. What a treat for you - and us!!

  5. Thanks for sharing - just beautiful !