Crazy quilts, assembled from remarkable arrays of small, irregular pieces of cloth, became the rage in quilt-making in the late nineteenth century. They were made possible by newly affordable luxury fabrics produced by the growing textile industry and encouraged by women’s magazines dismissive of “old-fashioned,” “dreary” cotton patchwork. Another catalyst was the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, where millions of Americans encountered English embroidery, inspired by medieval and oriental aesthetics, and Japanese pottery with a “crazed” or cracked glaze.
Crazy quilts were used in Victorian homes to decorate public spaces, conveying their makers’ gentility, taste, and artistic skill. They also provided a canvas for women to commemorate important relationships, or to express political preferences and celebrate important social events through the incorporation of banners or souvenir sashes.
- Culture: American
- Medium: Silk, silk velvet, silk satin, lace
- Dates: ca. 1885
- Dimensions: 69 1/2 x 62 in. (176.5 x 157.5 cm) (show scale)
- Museum Location: This item is not on view
- Accession Number: 76.91.2
- Credit Line: Gift of Arrietta H. Smith
- Rights Statement:
- Caption: American. Crazy Quilt, ca. 1885. Silk, silk velvet, silk satin, lace, 69 1/2 x 62 in. (176.5 x 157.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Arrietta H. Smith, 76.91.2
- Record Completeness: Good (66%)