John L. Sullivan Quilt

A work made of pieced and embroidered “crazy” quilt top; dyed and printed silk, cotton, wool and metallic, plain, twill, satin, velvet and patterned weave fabrics and ribbons; silk, metallic and cotton embroidery threads.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of pieced and embroidered “crazy” quilt top; dyed and printed silk, cotton, wool and metallic, plain, twill, satin, velvet and patterned weave fabrics and ribbons; silk, metallic and cotton embroidery threads.

Date:

c. 1890

Artist:

United States, probably Illinois

About this artwork

Lionizing the infamous Irish-American boxer John Sullivan, this quilt presents a striking collage of representational images, patterns, and text. The embroidered portrait of Sullivan in the center depicts him as a formidable individual with crossed arms and a steely gaze. Around him, the quilt features an irregular assemblage of fabric scraps embroidered with imagery and text drawn from popular print media of the time. Although the central placement of the portrait, which is accented with shamrocks and an American flag, as well as the scattering of lucky horse shoes, appear celebratory, the ominous phrase BLOODY BUTCHERY appears at left, perhaps a description of one of his matches. Below the central portrait, the red-and black-striped fabric features a depicted of the 1889 bare-knuckle match in which Sullivan triumphed over Jake Kilrain after seventy-five rounds.
Making Memories: Quilts as Souvenirs, October 20, 2017-April 1, 2018

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Textiles

Title

John L. Sullivan Quilt

Origin

Illinois

Date

1888–1892

Medium

Pieced and embroidered “crazy” quilt top; dyed and printed silk, cotton, wool and metallic, plain, twill, satin, velvet and patterned weave fabrics and ribbons; silk, metallic and cotton embroidery threads

Dimensions

209.6 x 201.9 cm (82 1/2 x 79 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Restricted gift of the Margaret Cavigga Trust

Reference Number

2003.293

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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