Tree of Life

April, 2014

Tree of Life

Maker unknown

Circa 1790-1810
Probably made in United States

In addition to the stylized tree of life and long-tailed birds featured in this quilt, the maker fashioned borders with fabric that depicts latticework gates and unusual vases and urns. Designs such as these were known as chinoiserie, from the French word 'chinois,' meaning Chinese. Images inspired by art and design from China, Japan and other Asian countries were freely re-interpreted through the addition of exaggerated, imaginary details. The style became popular during the mid-1700s.

This quilt is nearly eleven feet square. Such sizeable spreads were needed to cover fashionable four-poster beds often piled high with feather mattresses or ticks and accommodating a trundle bed beneath.

This quilt was previously featured in our exhibition, Chintz Applique Quilts: From Imitation to Icon.