Collection Spotlight: Storied Quilts from the Hudson River Museum
In conjunction with Wall Power! Spectacular Quilts from the American Folk Art Museum, the Hudson River Museum will display five important quilts from its own collection of thirty examples.
The textiles on view range from the 1840s to the 1990s, from appliquéd and pieced patterns made of printed cottons to whimsical designs made of jewel-toned satin and velvet. In addition to aesthetic merit and meticulous craftsmanship, the quilts have well-documented histories, something rare in older quilts, whose stories are often lost to time.
Three nineteenth-century examples include the Hunterdon County Signature Quilt featuring a variation on the chimney sweep pattern, a Pieced Sampler Quilt by New York tailor Adolph Schermer, and an elaborate silk and velvet Crazy Quilt by couple Pinkus and Ernestine Turk. Planning a signed quilt called for a block pattern with open spaces suitable to hold the names. The chimney sweep pattern is ideal for this purpose with a central square in each block surrounded by a diamond. Recent research reveals that all forty-two names on the quilt, written in the same hand, were residents of Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Several people are married couples or otherwise related, giving the impression this was made to honor a collective of family and friends.Read more
In contrast to the printed cottons of the Hunterdon County quilt, the Schemer and Turk quilts are both made of sumptuous and richly colored silks. Schermer, an Austro-Hungarian tailor who made the quilt after immigrating to New York City in the 1880s, included appliqués of an American flag within a Star of David, symbolic of his religious heritage and newfound patriotism. Pinkus and Ernestine Turk, who came to New York from Germany as children, crafted a crazy quilt with a geometric section in the center. They embellished the surrounding patchwork area with appliqués of hearts and embroidered their names and those of their children.
Also on view for the first time in decades will be the Bicentennial Quilt, made in 1976 by Ellanora Kolb, Anna McDonough, and Pauline Ringler, and presented to the Woman’s Institute of Yonkers to commemorate the two-hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Among the sites depicted are Glenview, the Museum’s Gilded Age home, Philipse Manor Hall, Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, and St. John’s Church. This quilt, as well as the Westchester Unity Quilt, also on view, demonstrate the vitality of the quilting tradition through the twentieth century, particularly for recording and celebrating events and personal connections important to their makers. The latter was made by museum staff, docents, and participants in an ongoing program in 1993 and 1994 and is the most recent example in the collection. It features a central image of the Hudson River Palisades, created by local artist Arlé Sklar-Weinstein with Jacqueline and Carmen Feliciano, and surrounded by squares celebrating African, Armenian, Italian, Jewish, Polish, and Puerto Rican heritage, among others.
These quilts from the HRM collection are presented in honor of the late Mayor of Yonkers Angelo R. Martinelli, a major supporter of the Woman’s Institute of Yonkers.
The exhibition is generously sponsored by The Coby Foundation, Ltd.