Crazy Quilt

Ernestine Turk (German, 1845–1921) and Pincus Turk (American, b. Germany, 1840–?)
1886
Currently on view
MediumPieced, appliquéd, and embroidered silk, satin, and velvet
Dimensions73 × 71 1/2 inches
CreditGift of Marilyn Maloff, 1994
Accession Number94.10.1

This quilt combines two styles—a geometric center surrounded by a crazy quilt border. Besides suggesting a wild array, the term ‘crazy’ also refers to the crazing, or overall cracking, of the glaze on antique Asian ceramics, which many late nineteenth-century Americans admired and adapted to other art forms.

This type of quilt is also known as ‘patchwork’ because the technique demands piecing together irregularly shaped scraps of fabric. The Turk family worked in the cravat business, which meant that they would have had easy access to a plethora of silk fabrics in solids and patterns. Silk crazy quilts fell out of fashion in the early twentieth century in part because they were not washable and the public became more aware of germs.

Pincus and Ernestine Turk, who came to New York from Germany as children, embroidered the names of their own children on the quilt, Willie and Lillie, ages 5 and 7. Additional embellished details include appliqués of hearts and an embroidered Star of David.

Exhibition History