'Color and Contour' showcases French quilts

'Color and Contour' showcases French quilts

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International Quilt Study Center and Museum | Courtesy photo
"Color and Contour," opening at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum on June 15, highlights and explores antique French quilts. Pictured is a "Vanne," made from silk bourrette and cotton between 1780 and1800.

The International Quilt Study Center and Museum is shedding light on historical French quiltmaking traditions in “Color and Contour: Provençal Quilts and Domestic Objects.”

Guest curated by scholar and collector Kathryn Berenson, “Color and Contour” showcases quilts and folk objects made between 1780-1900. It can be seen June 15 to Oct. 28 in the museum’s Lois Gottsch Gallery.

Quilts from the museum's Kathryn Berenson Collection and Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection will be displayed alongside dishes, utensils and other everyday objects. The selected works highlight the play of light and shadow over the surface of a single color textile.

“Color and Contour” follows up Berenson’s exhibition, “Marseille: White Corded Quilts.” The world’s first major display of all-white quilted and corded French needlework, it appeared at the museum in 2010 and 2011. In the exhibition, Berenson examined technique, technology and imagery in whole-cloth whitework made during the 17th and 18th centuries in the the port city located on the French Riviera.

While “Marseille” looked exclusively at white whole-cloth quilts, the new installation gives attention to the only piecework tradition found in Provence. Known as “fenêtre” — which translates to window in English — the quilts are composed of a large interior block of one textile with a surrounding border made from another contrasting color or print.

“Color and Contour” is supported by Berenson’s debut book, “Quilts of Provence: The Art and Craft of French Quiltmaking,” published in 1997.

Berenson is a renown authority on French textiles. Her books, which also include “Marseille: The Cradle of White Corded Quilting” are scholastically known as the definitive books on the subject. A longtime fellow of the museum, her research has been shared across the United States and internationally in Italy, United Kingdom and France.

Her expertise has been instrumental in building the museum’s collection of historical French quilts.

Learn more about the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.