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The eagle was a hot design trend in the decorative arts, throughout the United States and not only in quilts, from the early years of the republic through our semi-centennial in 1826. Garnhart made four eagle quilts, probably all before about 1830, and all with her extensive use of reverse appliqué.
This eagle quilt was made for Henry Scholl Markey, b. 1839, fourth child of Catharine’s son, David. It has been passed down through Henry’s descendants to the present owner.
Mysteriously, an almost identical quilt, attributed to an Elizabeth Welsh with no known connection to Catharine Garnhart, but with a Frederick Maryland origin, is owned by the Brooklyn Museum. Did Welsh and Garnhart know each other? Did they use the same unknown design source? Research continues to explain this similarity.
Block-and roller-printed cottons; cotton filling and backing.
Catharine shopped in Baltimore, paying up to a dollar per yard for her chintzes—a lot of money back then. Over fifty small prints appear throughout Garnhart’s quilts, and over twenty large-scale chintzes. Many prints appear in several quilts.