Melrose Quilt

Media - 2014.5 - SAAM-2014.5_1 - 96209
Copied Clementine Hunter, Melrose Quilt, ca. 1960, fabric, 7360 in. (185.4152.4 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Barbara Coffey Quilt Endowment, 2014.5

Artwork Details

Melrose Quilt
ca. 1960
Not on view
7360 in. (185.4152.4 cm)
Credit Line
Museum purchase through the Barbara Coffey Quilt Endowment
Mediums Description
  • Architecture Exterior — domestic — house
Object Number

Artwork Description

Clementine Hunter was born on a Louisiana plantation where her grandparents had been slaves. When she was twelve, her family moved to Melrose Plantation in Natchitoches Parish to work as sharecroppers. Clementine worked as a field hand, cook, and housekeeper. The Henry family bought Melrose in 1884; they restored architectural structures on the property and moved historic log cabins from the area onto the property. When John Hampton Henry died, his wife Cammie made Melrose a retreat for visiting artists. Hunter’s exposure to artists and some leftover paints led her to own artistry. She painted quotidian stories she felt historians overlooked—primarily the activities of the black workers. She also made pictorial quilts. This one depicts several notable buildings at Melrose, including the Big House, Yucca House, and African House, in which Hunter painted a now-historic mural of plantation life in 1955.


Media - 2019.15 - SAAM-2019.15_1 - 137377
Subversive, Skilled, Sublime: Fiber Art by Women
May 31, 2024January 5, 2025
The artists in Subversive, Skilled, Sublime: Fiber Art by Women mastered and subverted the everyday materials of cotton, felt, and wool to create deeply personal artworks.