February 16, 2008 to June 01, 2008
Masterpiece Quilts from the Shelburne Museum includes forty of the finest examples from the Shelburne Museum’s permanent collection of over 400 eighteenth- to twentieth-century American quilts. This one-of-a-kind museum in Vermont was founded by Electra Havemeyer Webb, heiress to the Domino Sugar fortune and a pioneering collector of American folk art. Organized following a three-year conservation and research project, this exhibition features exceptional examples of seven types of quilts: Album, Amish, Appliqué, Chintz Appliqué, Crazy Patchwork, Pieced, and Whole-Cloth. The Shelburne’s renowned quilt collection is the largest and most significant of its kind. The museum was the first, in 1952, to exhibit quilts as works of art.
The exhibition showcases a great American tradition in all its diversity, with powerful imagery of patriotic, natural, and domestic themes. Included is a quilt made for the Women’s Pavilion at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, a Chintz quilt attributed to Martha Washington’s granddaughter, and charming crib quilts with images of children at play. From the austere simplicity of the Amish quilt to the visual excitement of the patchwork, these are works of powerful imagery, amazing technical skill, and superb artistic quality. Quilts from New England, the mid-Atlantic, and the Midwest are represented, dating from 1800 and 1900. The exhibition is an excellent survey of the diverse visual styles and techniques used by traditional quiltmakers.