Quilt of the Month


May 2007

May 2007

Streak of Lightning
Maker, location unknown
Circa 1875
95” X 81.5”
IQSC 2003.003.0347
The Jonathan Holstein Collection, including the 1971 Whitney Museum Exhibition Quilts

Imagine you are a nineteenth century homesteader during a violent storm: a lightning bolt strobes out of the sky and momentarily silhouettes a huge cloud above you. Then all is darkness again. A vivid night storm on the prairie can easily be seen as the inspiration for this Streak of Lightning quilt.

By the second half of the nineteenth century, homemakers had a wide variety of inexpensive multi-colored cotton prints to use in their household projects, so it is less common to find a quilt from this era made in two solid colored fabrics. It suggests that the quiltmaker specifically chose a strong green and orange to highlight the zigzag pattern that travels diagonally across the quilt. Without the distraction of different prints, our eyes focus solely on the dynamic interaction between color and shape. The border effectively frames the pattern; however, it too is unusual in that the one green and two orange border strips do not form the customary continuous edge around the design. Instead they disconnect at the corners, thereby creating an interesting secondary pattern around the zigzags.