Whig Rose Quilt
Possibly Urbana, Ohio
89” x 89”
MSUM 2005.20.1, Gift of Katie McGrath
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved Michigan
State University Museum
The mid-nineteenth century saw a rise in the popularity of red
and green appliquéd quilts with, in some cases, an accent
of bright yellow or pink. Mid-century quilts in this style frequently
featured a floral design, with the flowers often stylized and an
emphasized border design, often of swags, vines, or floral trails.
The popularity of the red and green color palette may have several
origins. It may be an attempt to imitate the red and green floral
colors or it might be an attempt to mirror the colors found in tree
of life designs made of printed palampores and chintzes that were
popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. During
the mid-nineteenth century, red and green dyes were thought to be
steadfast or stable. As the red and green quilts of this period
have aged and especially after being exposed to light, the green-dyed
fabric has often been found to fade to brown. The reds have, however,
typically remained vibrant, as Turkey Red was one of the most stable
dyes available in nineteenth century.
The pattern name “Whig Rose” was a popular nineteenth
century pattern inspired by politics. The Whigs were an American
political party formed around 1833 in opposition to the [Andrew]
Jacksonian Democrats. Members of the Whig party included William
Henry Harrison, Henry Clay, Zachary Taylor, John Tyler (who was
eventually expelled from the party), and Millard Fillmore. By 1856,
the Whig party had dissolved, torn apart by the issue of the expansion
of slavery into the territories.
This quilt, therefore, is a wonderful document of the history of
textile dyes and needlework fashions and a reflection of political
Palampore- A colorful, wholecloth cotton spread, commonly featuring
trees and floral patterns. Palampores were imported to the United
States, usually from India.
Chintz- A cotton fabric that is frequently glazed and often features
a large-scale printed design.
---By Mary Worrall