Crazy Quilt

August, 2009

Crazy Quilt

Maker unknown
Crazy Quilt

Circa 1880-1890
Possibly made in Indiana
Ardis and Robert James Collection of Quilts, 1997.007.0234

Oscar Wilde, Anglo-Irish playwright and proponent of the idea of "art for art's sake," was the most visible figure of the late-nineteenth-century Aesthetic Movement, which was concerned with the intentional artistic beautification of every surface and space of one's home. This quilt actually features an embroidered portrait of Wilde who, in 1882, took America by storm in a country-wide lecture tour, which was warmly received by some and ridiculed and scorned by others. He is depicted here in white thread on a blue background with flowing hair and a neckerchief.

All of the high-style quilts in the exhibition "A Fairyland of Fabrics: The Victorian Crazy Quilt," feature the melange of luxurious silk fabrics, ribbons, colors, textures, embellishments, and artistic and Oriental imagery championed by Wilde and the Aesthetic Movement. 

High-style Crazy quilts were consciously made as artistic objects to be prominently featured and appreciated in the home.