Friday, November 9, 2012

Achsah Goodwin Wilkins Chintz Medallion Pictures

detail: Achsah Goodwin Wilkins chintz medallion at Williamsburg
Great day full of incredible lectures at The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg, where the "Influences on American Quilts: Baltimore to Bengal" conference is taking place this week. Topics ranged from an incredible medieval Italian quilt to the one I came to see, Ronda McAllen presenting "The Chintz Gardens of Achsah Goodwin Wilkins."

Ronda did an incredible job, and at the end of the lecture I heard someone calling out from the audience asking her to please publish her research. It was that good, and so was everyone else. But since I have a special interest in the Achsah Goodwin Wilkins chintz medallions, I thought I'd share some pictures of the one on display in Williamsburg, and how it compares with mine. Yesterday, I posted a picture of the two, side-by-side. In case you missed that, here it is. Mine is the one on the right.

Immediately apparent is the difference in condition and the overall design. The one in Williamsburg is in excellent condition, with only a couple minor stains. The chintz still shines with glaze, and the colors seem much closer to being intact than mine. Although the condition of mine is not as good, its design seems to have more of a formal structure than the one in Williamsburg. The placement of swags makes the overall design into flower shape. The ground cloth is the same type of fabric with a different pattern.

Before lunch, I met with Ronda McAllen, Linda Baumgarten, Kimberly Smith Ivey, and Kay Triplett - we snuck into a back storage room to take a peek at my medallion - and we talked about the ground cloth and what it could be. Possibly a later generation of Marseilles cloth, which may have been thinner, without two layers woven together. The conversation veered away from dimity and damask, so maybe we're back to calling it Marseilles cloth.

(l-r) Linda, Kim, and Ronda viewing my chintz medallion

One of the specific characteristics Ronda has seen in all the examples of Achsah Goodwin Wilkins chintz medallions that she has viewed is the pieced iris. I've blogged about it before, and here it is in Williamsburg's medallion. In this picture, the seam runs almost horizontally, and you can see it more easily because the light is picking up the shine of the glaze at the seam. It's a lot harder to see with no glaze.

In case you didn't see the other blog about the iris, here's a picture of the four I discovered in my medallion.

The theory about the pieced iris is it must have somehow been printed at the edge of the fabric in two places, which is not out of the ordinary for a continuous printed design. The other thing that's obviously a match on first glance is the border fabric. There are other bits of chintz that match, too.

I do hope Ronda publishes her research and keeps going with it. She was nice to include a picture of my quilt in her presentation, and when she mentioned that another example had just surfaced and was purchased at auction, all I could do was smile. 


  1. This story just continues to grow! Wonderful that the quilt found the right owner....

  2. Lovely photos of the chintz and the broderie perse looks very carefully executed - a delight to see! thanks for the post:)
    Every Stitch