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If Winter Comes: A Selection of 24 American Quilts & Coverlets

DATES May 5, 1958 through August 15, 1958
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  • Date unknown, 1958: A display of quilts and coverlets in the Brooklyn Museum Collection - entitled “If Winter Comes...” will be on view in the fourth floor temporary exhibition gallery of the Museum from May 5 - August 15. This varied and striking selection of bedcovers was mostly made in America during the early 19th century.

    The earliest quilt on view was probably made in Ireland about 1760. It has a colorful composition of figures and animals, even a tavern, cut from a floral-pattern chintz and sewed to a white linen background. Appliqué design like this was the earliest technique, and it continued until at least 1830. Several American examples with applied design are also exhibited.

    A new technique of quilt making was introduced about 1800. Strips of chintz were pieced together to form a design. This brought about the development of patterns with one motif repeated innumerable times. Several examples of this type are shown.

    Of particular interest are the woven coverlets. Made early on handlooms in the home and later by professional weavers, these coverlets have designs in two colors which are reversed when the piece is turned over. Blue and white and red and white were the two most popular color combinations, and the pieces on display have eagle designs and patriotic inscriptions. The earliest example is dated 1824.

    One of the rarest pieces in the collection is a bed rug, a coverlet made by applying tufts of wool to a wool background in a technique similar to rug making. This one, a type made in America as early as 1724, is dated 1790.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1958, 031. View Original