Quilts & Coverlets
CENTER STAR QUILT
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  • Artist unidentified
  • New England
  • 1815–1825
  • Glazed wool
  • 100 1/2 x 98 in.
  • American Folk Art Museum, gift of Cyril Irwin Nelson in honor of Robert Bishop, American Folk Art Museum director (1977–1991), 1986.13.1
  • A whole-cloth quilt is not made from a single piece of fabric, as the name might imply; it simply means that the quilt is made from fabric of a single color. Although this bedcover has a pieced star in the center, it is categorized as part of the whole-cloth tradition because of its large size, early date, and the fact that it is made of large pieces of glazed wool, known as calimanco, in a center-medallion format. This textile exhibits the elaborate quilting motifs typically associated with calimanco quilts. The meandering vine that frames the four sides is virtually identical to the quilted border in the Tree of Life Whitework Quilt that was on view at the museum in 2006 as part of the exhibition "White on White (and a little gray)" (see Past Exhibitions). Although the Center Star Quilt was made slightly later than the whitework quilt, they share several additional quilting motifs, including pomegranates. These bedcovers, however, do not share a single pattern; instead, they draw upon design conventions of the period. But the deep, saturated colors of this quilt root it in the past, while the whitework participates in the new neoclassical taste that emerged at the turn of the century, breaking the visual unification that had characterized the decorative arts in New England for nearly two centuries.