WASHINGTON, D.C. - A major exhibition of American needlework and quilts will be presented at the DAR Museum in the Main Gallery from October 8, 2004 through April 30, 2005. Home and Country: American Quilts and Samplers in the DAR Museum features 38 samplers and silk embroideries and 14 quilts that reflect the meaning of home and country in the nineteenth century through a shared design vocabulary. All displayed works are from the museum's renowned collection of textiles. The tree of life, the overflowing fruit basket, floral swags and meandering vines, sheaves of wheat and laurel branches were popular designs that reflected the promise of America's bounty and its significance to a rapidly expanding republic. The fierce eagle, the liberty cap, the flag, and the Great Seal are found in abundance on early nineteenth century textiles and symbolize the pride of a new nation. All speak to American dreams and aspirations in the early- to middle-nineteenth century.
A highlight of the show includes a rarely-exhibited needlework picture "Liberty." Liberty was made by an unknown schoolgirl between 1800 and 1815, and was based on an engraving made by Edward Savage called, Liberty, In the Form of the Goddess of Youth; Giving Support to the Bald Eagle. Liberty's creator distinctively stitched the Trenton Arches in the background of her work, honoring for posterity the celebratory arches erected in Trenton, New Jersey for President-elect George Washington as he journeyed through the city on his way to New York for the country's first inaugural. This masterpiece illustrates the pride ordinary Americans felt for the new country and its first president.
Artridge Priscilla Jackson of Georgetown, District of Columbia worked her sampler in 1829 with images of home and simple domesticity. She carefully stitched into her sampler her two-story home and her pets, as well as four bountiful baskets. This work attests to the importance of home to young girls in the nineteenth century.
One of the most remarkable bedcovers made in the nineteenth century is a virtual textbook of symbols of patriotism, liberty and prosperity. The Baltimore Album Quilt Top represents the pinnacle of the Baltimore album quilt style, a distinctive type of quilt which emerged in mid-nineteenth-century Baltimore and its environs. This quilt, maker unknown, contains representations of the U.S. Capitol, the Baltimore Battle Monument, another unidentified civic building and nine open-work fruit and flower baskets. It is breathtaking in its display of patriotism and the seemingly infinite bounty of America.
Home, family and friends were revered in an era of ever-increasing mobility and in a society that some have called "the cult of domesticity." In the last decade of the nineteenth century the Daughters of the American Revolution harkened back to the cult of domesticity by using "Home and Country" as the motto for their newly-founded organization.