bookrv16.htm :ᯪ bookrv16.htmh}?%GpTEXTJyWs4 :ᯪ TWO BOOK REVIEWS: France and Vermont

TWO BOOK REVIEWS: France and Vermont

By Nancy Cameron Armstrong

By Kathryn Berenson
New York: Henry Holt, 1996
192p. 8 1/2 x 11
$45.00US, $63.00 in Canada
French language edition, Boutis de Provence, from Flammarion, Paris.

In January, as I had not received a requested review copy, on the basis of the recognized expertise of Berenson (an American Quilt Study Group member and author of a paper on the topic, textile dealer, and sometime lecturer at the Museum of American Folk Art and the Smithsonian) and the limited coverage of the subject in other publications I made this entry from the publicity: "This lavishly illustrated history of the art of Provencal quilted needlework pays tribute to the 600-year-old tradition in all its varied beauty - from intricate corded bedcovers and toilette towels to marvelous garments stitched with elaborate floral and figurative motifs ... ." I invited members of the Canadian Quilt Study Group to send a review.

Rosalind Webster Perry wrote: "I received Quilts of Provence ... for Christmas. So far I have only browsed through it and therefore am not qualified to review it. I would, however, like to comment on the photography. It is a lush production, but unfortunately uses the worst decorator magazine tricks. Two photos in particular distressed me greatly: on page 10 an exquisite 'white corded 18th century broderie de Marseille bedcover' is shown under a glass of white wine, and with what appear to be 9 white sugar coated almonds sprinkled across its surface! Then on pages 22-23, we see a gorgeously quilted 'honey-colored cotton bedcover, circa 1850' used as a breakfast cloth, complete with bread, butter and a container of jam! There are other horrors, too. I was truly shocked, as I imagine Kathryn Berenson must have been.

From the table of contents: Foreword by Michel Biehn ('a noted interior designer and dealer in French quilts') ...How to Care for and Display Quilts (a section obviously not consulted by the editors) ... and Photograph Credits (revealing the worst culprit to be one Erik Kvalsvik)."

January 27, the review copy I requested October 15 finally arrived. Now, book in hand, what do I think? Well, first I want to say that Kvalsvik did not commit the only indecencies. Berenson's author photo has a Provenal quilt draped around her shoulder as a "shawl" and her own large number of photo credits include: a vanne (a small quilt "that rests on top of the bed for decorative effect") resting "decoratively" on pots of fuchsias and ivy, a 1790 petticoat turned into a bedcover in the 19th century lying on yet another potted plant, an exquisite petassoun ("a small infant lap piece" used to protect clothing in the 19th century) draped artistically over a fishing boat as "women from fishing villages made such pieces for sale," and perhaps oddest of all a circa 1830 silk quilt which "evokes a sense of prosperity" draped in an arch in a mossy stone wall and hanging down to touch the grass below. In the Acknowledgments Berenson thanks Kvalsvik for "his beautiful photographs" and others such as Bernard Touillon who photographed a bedcover laying on a table under the direct sun to emphasize "the play of light and shadow" on the cording. Such a shame, for Rosalind is quite correct the reproduction quality is impeccable and the printing is on my favorite - good quality matte paper.

Enough, and maybe too much ... perhaps it is primarily a matter of taste, and more importantly THE INTENDED MARKET. Now... what good is offered here for quilt history? Much, since there are also marvelous, clear, detailed color photographs of full quilts and close views of highly magnified details. There are also many examples of Provenal nineteenth century costumes and 18th century Marseilles produced petticoats and corsets on mannequins, as well as several vintage paintings which help to document dates of needlework styles. It is about these costumes, and not the quilts, that more publications have previously appeared This text, as did Berenson's AQSG Uncovering 1995 paper "Origins and Traditions of Marseilles Needlework," focusses on the quilts.

The contents: setting of Provence, history of Provence and Provencal needlework including terminology and fabrics, methodology, quilts, garments, exports to the colonies and elsewhere, and the domestic use of quilts and garments. She also covers in more detail much of the same ground covered by Janine Janniere in "The 'Hand Quilting' of Marseille" in The Quilt Journal 2, no. 1 (1993), and includes a far more extensive bibliography. Not unlike Janniere's article, Berenson continues to raise questions that remain unanswered definitively. However, she does build a reasoned argument for "the French connection" to British and American needlework. As she carefully states it ... "the comparison of surviving, quilted articles in all three countries allow the possibility of direct - and the probability of at least indirect - influence of broderies de Marseille on quilted, corded, and stuffed textiles stitched in Britain and America."Also included: directions for making a vanne, a petassoun, and a reversible couvre-lit (queen size); "How to Care for and Display Quilts"; "Where to See and Buy French Quilts": and an extensive "Glossary." Recommended with noted reservations.

By Celia Y. Oliver
Lafayette, CA: C&T, 1997
112p. 8 1/2 x 11 $24.95US Softcover.

For The Shelburne Museum's 50th anniversary Oliver, its Curator of Textiles, has created not only a story of the museum from 1947 on and its founder Electra Havemeyer Webb, but a brief 26- page history of "American Quilts in the Home" - an "overview of quilt history" that Barbara Brackman says on the jacket cover "is sure to become a classic."

With the excellent and inexpensive (Dover, 1990:$9.95) 55 Famous Quilts from the Shelburne Museum in Full Color (for which Oliver also wrote the text) still in print, it was essential that this new publication offer something more. It certainly delivers. The Shelburne bedcover collection of over 700 items, "recognized as one of the largest, broadest and most diverse" in the US, has been widely publicized and as one's collection of quilt books grows one hopes there will be quilts not already in print in any new publications that come along.

There are some lovely "new ones" here, as well as the first ever patterns for five quilts from the Shelburne collection: from the 3rd quarter 19th century Wild Goose and Sunflower, Florence Peto's 1951 prize-winning Calico Garden, an 1826 Stars & Pinwheel Medallion, and a c1850 Pincushion. Even if one has no interest in actually replicating quilts, Froncie Hoffine Quinn's detailed construction analysis and instructions provide a more thorough understanding of their complexity than the brief text that typically accompanies illustrations.

The book design is outstanding - both attractive and effective for cross-referencing text to illustrations. Many pages have one of the quilt blocks in color with a screen under approximately half the text. The result of the screen is a VERY pale version of the block and an elegant layout. Whenever there is a specific reference to a quilt a small (7/8") detail appears next to the text with a page reference to the full quilt. EXCELLENT practice! However, one picky comment ... as a result of this easy cross referencing it was not difficult to spot an unfortunate editing error that involves pages 12, 41, 73, and 74 and the five, or is it six? quilts made by Anna Baker (who does not appear in the index), or is it Olga Six Baker, or ... Vera Bryant Woodward? Another picky, picky ... note 56 on page 107 refers to Sandy (not Sandi) Fox. Highly recommended.

TVQ * Planet Patchwork NNZ0 bookrv16.htmlTEXTJyWs4TEXTJyWs4:hDDDDDD@UUUPBP  w%w%w%    w%w%w%  8  w%w%w%@  A  w%w%w%H  I  a  b  w%w%w%f   w%w%w%   w%w%w%  w%w%w%   w%w%w%  *  w%w%w%/  J  w%w%w%O  `  w%w%w%e    w%w%w%    w%w%w%    w%w%w%    w%w%w%    w%w%w%   '  w%w%w%*  #  w%w%w%&    w%w%w%    w%w%w%@  w%w%w%P  d  w%w%w%i    w%w%w%    w%w%w%    w%w%w%  8  w%w%w%;  \  w%w%w%_    w%w%w%    w%w%w%    w%w%w%    w%w%w%    w%w%w%    w%w%w%   !  w%w%w% %  (  w%w%w% Q  a  w%w%w% l  o  q  w%w%w% x  y  w%w%w%NNZx$\Zstylsoup&88592CP