Signature Quilts 5: Redwork

Red needlework on a white ground came out of many aesthetic influences in the late nineteenth century, including the Japanese pavilion at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, the art of British illustrators such as Kate Greenaway, and the principles of the Arts and Crafts and Aesthetic Movements. Redwork also had a more technical reason for its popularity—“Turkey Red” dye from the madder plant was particularly colorfast. The period of Redwork’s popularity roughly coincided with the golden age of the signature quilt, and as red embroidery on a white ground is a natural match for the signature quilt medium, many signature quilts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were done in Redwork.

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