My heart was racing at the end of this auction for a wholecloth whitework trapunto quilt, offered in today's Discovery auction at Skinner in Boston. I "discovered" it just before going to the conference at Colonial Williamsburg, and after seeing a number of presentations on whitework counterpanes, I was convinced this quilt was something significant, worth pursuing. Bidding was spirited, and as usual, I bid aggressively and just kept going until it was over. At the end, it was just me and another internet bidder, and I wonder if it's someone I know.
Condition isn't the best. There are stains, yellowing, and places where the stuffing is coming out, mostly on the back. But the condition didn't really matter as much as the motif and the design. I believe it's a weeping willow, and if it is, it probably was made for a very special purpose. Weeping willows have much significance. They were sometimes a symbol of fertility, and other times a symbol of mourning. They were also associated with mysticism. All of the associations that have popped up are very intriguing.
Also enlightening is a note I came across in Robert Shaw's "American Quilts, The Democratic Art, 1780-2007" which said whitework quilts with an overall design are rare. That's something I didn't realize after seeing so many of them in the lectures at Williamsburg. It almost seemed like there were a lot of them, but there really aren't. Can't wait to see it in person. Photographing it will be tricky!