Twelve Quilts of Christmas 2017 – #12

Pictorial Medallion, Jane Reagan or Jane Reazon, possibly Ontario, c. 1827, cotton, size not known, current location/collection unknown.


Marilyn I. Walker discusses at length this phenomenal quilt in her book Ontario Heritage Quilts.  The scope, scale and detail in this quilter's work astounds me.  She was a skilled needlewoman, had a keen eye for composition, and her use of fabric and ability to give the illusion of three dimensions and create realistic representations through "silhouetting" with fabric is remarkable.  


This quilt also leaves me full of questions.  What story was she telling.  Did this quilt accurately depict the different stages of her life. There are castles and battles and flocks of birds flying through the air and what appear to be gentlemen out for "The Shoot".  There is a scene of courtship (with chaperones), a room with artwork lining the walls showing a refined life, and scenes of country life including the hunt and social calls.  


It is the bottom quadrant that further intrigues, with what looks like a deteriorating castle and a life of leisure.  But as you get towards the lower half of that quadrant you see a  life of farming, both men and women holding implements, and a strong sense of community and camaraderie.  There is a shamrock and man playing fiddle in the bottom right corner.  Some figures are only basted on, the quilt never completed.  We are left wondering why she did not finish it.


We are so fortunate to know her name.  She proudly added it to the wall of frames in the upper quadrant.  Walker interprets it as Jane Reagan, but when I look at it I see the name Jane Reazon.  I wonder what the significance of 1827?  Was this a marriage quilt?


Look at the detail of the scissors on this table in this enlarged detail of the quilt and then look back at the quilt.  This table is to the left of the fireplace in the top quadrant.  My gosh those scissors are small!


Walker writes: "Jane probably brought the fabrics and threads with her when she came to Canada.  Imported fabrics and threads of this quality were not available in remote areas.  Several pieces of fabric still bear the Royal Seal of Approval on their backs.  Fabrics had to be of top quality before they were given this approval."  


The scenes and materials indicate she likely came from a very privileged background.  What a change it would have been to have travelled the ocean and start a new life in wilds of Canada.


Unfortunately the quilt had not been cared for by the time Walker came across it and it was in a severe state of rot, which is a shame.  It has such a story to tell.  Fortunately it was recorded in photographs.


Thank you so much for joining me this year.  It has been such a pleasure to have you stop by and to share these quilts with you.  I would love it if you would leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on this year's Twelve Quilts of Christmas.  


Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Mary Elizabeth





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