Saturday, February 23, 2019

My Oscar has some New (old) Famous Friends

My Oscar has some New (old) Famous Friends
While searching for a fabric source for the Oscar on my crazy quilt, I found he had some very famous friends.  Two museums – the Met in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston – house quilts that have the same fabric used in my crazy quilt.  The pair are remarkably similar in design and have many of the exact same fabrics.

The “Oscar” fabric showcases the Gilbert and Sullivan opera “Patience, or Bunthorne’s Bride that opened in 1881 (hat tip to Alden – curator of the DAR museum in D.C.).  The third quilt pictured was shown in the Why Quilts Matter, episode 2.  It is interesting to note that all three makers of these quilts used the fabric ‘as is’ without any embellishments; where as in mine, the quilt maker deliberately cut out the “Oscar” image and enhanced it with embroidery. 

The other quilts probably were not influenced by Oscar Wilde, while the maker of my crazy quilt definitely had Oscar in mind while making her quilt.  In closer inspection of my quilt, she did not even use the remnants from fussy cutting out Oscar, but stuck with using silks, plushes and brocades in the quilt – plus she added sunflowers.  A truly aesthetic Oscar Crazy Quilt.

You can view the quilts at the following sites:

Aside:  The three quilts ALL used the “Patience” fabric and the Santa Claus bandana.  I did find an example of the political banner fabric used in The Met’s quilt – James A. Garfield for President – Union For Ever.  The Santa Claus bandana is attributed to the Oriental Print Works company in RI.  The Boston quilt has has a panel print from that same company – the playing cards.  In the center of that motif, the insignia reads: Oriental Print Works, Apponaug, RI. 

I find it funny that in the “Why Quilts Matter” sampler quilt, all the other blocks were pieced, but not the Santa or Patience blocks (excepting the framing – to make it to size).  Most of the blocks have signatures.  Did the quilt maker just really love those fabrics, or did she need two more blocks to finish the quilt, or did she have lazy friends who didn’t bother to make to make a block and just gave her fabric squares?  Anyone who has been in a “Round Robin” or “Quilt Block Exchange” knows what I mean.

On a side note - it is interesting that the 2 museum quilts complete the Santa Claus banner - did the two quilters know each other and share the same bandana?  So many of the fabrics used in the two quilts are the same prints, sometimes a different colorway, but the same.  The Met quilt has a more scrappy appearance, whereas the MFA quilt uses larger chunks of fabric.
The fabric was printed by Oriental Print Works of Rhode Island.  The MET quilt was purchased in 2007 at the New Hampshire Antiques Quilt Show.  The MFA quilt was purchased from an estate sale in the Essex, MA area around the same time period.  All located in the North East and relatively close to each other - so maybe they did share fabrics.  (Not likely, but it is interesting that the two quilts complete the Santa Claus print.) 

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