Cover image for Four centuries of quilts : the Colonial Williamsburg collection
Four centuries of quilts : the Colonial Williamsburg collection
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Publication Information:
Williamsburg, Virginia : The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, [2014]
Physical Description:
xii, 355 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NK9102.W55 C653 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



An exquisite and authoritative look at four centuries of quilts and quilting from around the world

Quilts are among the most utilitarian of art objects, yet the best among them possess a formal beauty that rivals anything made on canvas. This landmark book, drawn from the world-renowned collection of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, highlights the splendor and craft of quilts with more than 300 superb color images and details. Fascinating essays by two noted scholars trace the evolution of quilting styles and trends as they relate to the social, political, and economic issues of their time.

The collection includes quilts made by diverse religious and cultural groups over 400 years and across continents, from the Mediterranean, England, France, America, and Polynesia. The earliest quilts were made in India and the Mediterranean for export to the west and date to the late 16th century. Examples from 18th- to 20th-century America, many made by Amish and African-American quilters, reflect the multicultural nature of American society and include boldly colored and patterned worsteds and brilliant pieced and appliquéd works of art.

Grand in scope and handsomely produced, Four Centuries of Quilts: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection is sure to be one of the most useful and beloved references on quilts and quilting for years to come.

Author Notes

Linda Baumgarten is curator of textiles and costumes, Kimberly Smith Ivey is curator of textiles and historic interiors, and Ronald Hurst is the Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator and vice president of collections, conservation, and museums, all at Colonial Williamsburg.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The substance and breadth of this lavishly illustrated museum collection catalog make it a worthy addition to the well-established scholarly literature on the history and significance of quilts and quilt making in American culture, but something short of a substitute for more rigorous and wide-sampling surveys such as Roderick Kiracofe's The American Quilt: A History of Cloth and Comfort 1750-1950 or Robert Shaw's American Quilts (CH, May'10, 47-4830). The authors-both textile curators at Colonial Williamsburg-present some 150 spectacular handcrafted quilts as material manifestations of gendered identities, home economy, creative expression; family, church, ethnic, and community ties; political, social, and commercial engagement; and even global trade and technologies. The catalog's arc is roughly chronological across categories (ethnic groups, quilting techniques, genres, materials, and pattern names) that reflect collection strengths. Its best feature is the authors' efforts to recover the identities of individual quilt makers. Endnotes for each chapter are excellent, lending depth and texture to too-brief chapter introductions. Book design is first-rate, with period photographs, portraits, related artifacts, detail close-ups, and black-and-white diagrams providing context for 130-plus full-page color plates. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. --Kathy S. Edwards, Clemson University