Quilts and Color: The Pilgrim/Roy Collection — Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Double Wedding Ring Quilt

The signature Double Wedding Ring Quilt of the Pilgrim/Roy Collection on exhibit at Museum of Fine Arts Boston

While in Boston prior to the 2014 Marathon, we saw city buses sporting a colorful double wedding ring quilt.  We couldn’t help but notice.  The vibrant, pop-art quilt with its striking purple background and spinning wheels of color filled the side of the bus from top to bottom, luring us to the Pilgrim/Roy Collection of eye-popping quilts on exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts.  I couldn’t wait to see it.  Not only has my mom cut, pieced, and stitched quilts for just about everyone in the family, she has introduced us all to the fine art of combining colors and geometric shapes to produce art worthy of display in any museum.

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

To say the least, the exhibit dazzles the eye and stirs the soul.  You could be attracted to any of the sixty graphically bold American quilts just for the patterns . . . or the colors . . . or the workmanship.  But taken as a whole, this body of work takes your breath away. Displayed in dark rooms, the spotlighted quilts move those who stand silently or speak in hushed voices as they contemplate fabric choices, patterns, and hand-stitching.  The curated collection includes well-documented acquisition details and the names of makers, if known. We think you, too, will enjoy seeing these special American artifacts that are artistic in every sense of the word.

Mariner's Compass, Massachusetts, 1840

Visitor admires a Mariner’s Compass quilt: Massachusetts, about 1840

Bold Colors

Many quilts in the Pilgrim/Roy Collection — almost all, in fact — are notable for rich, vibrant colors that have stood the test of time.

Center Medallion tied child's comforter: Missouri, 1910

Center Medallion tied child’s comforter: Missouri, 1910

Mennonite, Nine Patch: Pennsylvania (Bucks County), 1880s

Mennonite, Nine Patch: Pennsylvania (Bucks County), 1880s

Amish, Snail's Tails: Illinois (Arthur) about 1930

Amish, Snail’s Tails: Illinois (Arthur) about 1930

Close-up: Snail's Tails: Pieced wool plain weave and twill top

Close-up: Snail’s Tails: Pieced wool plain weave and twill top

Chain Star: Midwestern U. S., 1940s

Chain Star: Midwestern U. S., 1940s

Close-up: Chain Star. Pieced and appliqued printed cotton plain weave top.

Close-up: Chain Star. Pieced and appliqued printed cotton plain weave top.

Optical Illusions

If you move one way and then another, you’ll note something different about the quilts that “fool the eye.” Whether it’s the pattern or the combination of fabrics or even how light comes into play, it’s fun to look more than once at the optical illusion quilts.

Yellow Baskets, New York

Yellow Baskets: New York, 1920s-30s.
Perhaps not intended to be an optical illusion, this quilt took on a different appearance as we moved from side to side.

Close-up: Yellow Baskets

Close-up: Yellow Baskets (At times, grays became more dominant in the background.)

Detail: Yellow Baskets

Detail: Yellow Baskets

Striking Geometrics

Although many quilt patterns are quite traditional, the choice of colors can add a modern-day geometric quality or a bold statement as lights and darks contrast.

Lend and Borrow: Pennsylvania (Lancaster County), 1870s

Lend and Borrow: Pennsylvania (Lancaster County), 1870s

Close-up: Lend and Borrow

Close-up: Lend and Borrow

Mennonite: Double Irish Chain on point: Pennsylvania, 1880-90

Mennonite: Double Irish Chain on point: Pennsylvania, 1880-90

Stitching detail: Double Irish Chain

Stitching detail: Double Irish Chain

Log Cabin Variations

At least one long wall and then some was dedicated to quilts using the Log Cabin pattern — squares made up of tiny strips of fabric, half of them light and half dark.  But it’s placement of the squares that determines the overall pattern.

Log Cabin, Sunshine and Shadow variation: Illinois, 1870s.  Maker: Rebexy Gray.

Log Cabin, Sunshine and Shadow variation: Illinois, 1870s. Maker: Rebexy Gray.

Close-up: Sunshine and Shadow

Close-up: Sunshine and Shadow

Log Cabin, Multiple Barn Raising variation: Pennsylvania, 1930s

Log Cabin, Multiple Barn Raising variation: Pennsylvania, 1930s

Log Cabin, Windmill Blades variation: Ohio, about 1890

Log Cabin, Windmill Blades variation: Ohio, about 1890

Close-up: Windmill Blades variation

Close-up: Windmill Blades variation

Traditional

Even the traditional patterns became extraordinary with the bursts of color and attention to detail.

Fans: Pennsylvania, 1900-10.  Pieced top of wool plain weave and twill with silk embroidery.

Fans: Pennsylvania, 1900-10. Pieced top of wool plain weave and twill with silk embroidery.

Wild Goose Chase: Pennsylvania (Lancaster County), 1880s

Wild Goose Chase: Pennsylvania (Lancaster County), 1880s

Detail: Baltimore Album Quilt, Maryland, before 1847

Detail: Baltimore Album Quilt, Maryland, before 1847

Detail 2: Baltimore Album Quilt, Maryland, before 1847

Detail 2: Baltimore Album Quilt, Maryland, before 1847

Quilts and Color: The Pilgrim/Roy Collection is on exhibit from April 6, 2014, to July 27, 2014.  Be sure to check the website for dates and times.  To purchase the book you see below, click here.

Quilts and Color: The Pilgrim/Roy Collection

Quilts and Color: The Pilgrim/Roy Collection by Pamela A. Parmal and Jennifer M. Swope
http://www.mfa.org/collections/publications/quilts-and-color

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Avenue of the Arts

465 Huntington Avenue

Boston, Massachusetts 02115

General Information: 617-267-9300

Website: http://www.mfa.org

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/mfaboston

To purchase Quilts and Colorhttp://www.mfa.org/collections/publications/quilts-and-color

My Pinterest board on Quiltshttp://www.pinterest.com/rushasams/quilts/

 

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
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16 Responses to Quilts and Color: The Pilgrim/Roy Collection — Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

  1. FreeRangeCow says:

    I love your personal connection to quilts! I hope it’s and “art form” that never.never.never disappears!

    • Rusha Sams says:

      I hope the art form never dies, too. However, I’ve noticed a decline in the number of quilt shops. Maybe I better get sewing! Thanks for reading/commenting.

  2. Sartenada says:

    Wow, that is great collection of very beautiful quilts. They have colors in harmony and wonderful patterns.

    Our quilts in Finland differ from them. If You do not mind, I give my link here:

    Quilt show 2012.

  3. These are so beautiful and the hand-stitching is amazing!

  4. suzjones says:

    Oh wow. These are divine. The thing that blows my mind the most is that a lot of them were hand stitched!

    • Rusha Sams says:

      The hand stitching made me lean in closer and closer with each subsequent quilt. I just couldn’t believe that people had the patience to do that work! They truly are divine quilts in great shape! Thanks for commenting.

      • suzjones says:

        I am blown away by that work. Truly. I know how difficult it is to make a quilt on a machine but to do it all by hand. Whilst it is immensely satisfying, it is certainly a lot of work. I am working on a hexagon quilt that is all hand-sewn. It’s a work in progress and so far only covers my lap but in time it will grow. 🙂

      • Rusha Sams says:

        At least you are working on one. I inherited an unfinished quilt that requires handwork for the border. I have yet to do anything with it. Maybe you and the quilts in this collection will inspire me to “get with it”!

      • suzjones says:

        I really have to sit down and finish the Tween’s quilt but it’s doing my head in lol

  5. susanissima says:

    These are gorgeous! Absolutely loving your posts!

  6. Sherry Galey says:

    I love quilts. They are works of art and these are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rusha Sams says:

      I love quilts, too — mostly antique ones, but some of the modern ones are quite interesting. They are all works of art, and I probably never will make one myself. The stitching and the preserved colors make these quilts especially noteworthy. Thanks for reading/commenting!

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