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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Craft: Fiber: Flying Geese
Flying Geese

Flying Geese
about 1840
Unidentified artist
calicoes and furnishing fabrics
35 5/8 x 38 3/4 in. (90.5 x 98.3 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Patricia Smith Melton

Hear more about the object
Learn about early American quilts 7MB
Hear staff member Tierney talk about Flying Geese 0.9MB

Both Flying Geese and Honeycomb are examples of patterned American quilts made from luxurious samples of calicoes and chintzes imported from France and England. Calico cotton fabrics, used primarily for dressmaking, were printed with small, repeated patterns of floral or abstract designs; chintz was a glazed cotton cloth printed with large, single-colored designs of flowers and birds. These elaborately painted fabrics originally came from India, but by the mid-1700s printing methods had been developed in England and France to replicate the Indian technique of hand painting. Flying Geese is a reversible quilt, created for a child’s bed. The triangle “geese” on the front are composed of English calicoes, and the back is an arrangement of pieced blocks and stripes. In Honeycomb, hexagonal floral calicoes have been combined with solid colors and a chintz border to create a dramatic geometric design.

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