Ann Dexter Helen Tabor Swift Nancy Bryant Foster
Ann Dexter, American, Coverlet, 1815 and 1900, Linen plain weave with wool embroidery; 229.2 cm (90 5/16 inches) (length), Gift of Edith N. Rathbun 2000.106.2
This coverlet exemplifies ideals of the American Arts and Crafts movement—hand-craftsmanship, use of traditional techniques, indigenous production, and, in New England, preservation of the colonial past. Family records that came with this piece include a note recording that the pattern, “hand stenciled by an artist,” was embroidered in 1900 by Helen Taber Swift and Nancy Bryant Foster on a sheet of hand-spun, hand-woven linen made in 1815 by their ancestor Ann Dexter. Textiles and art needlework were especially well suited to the Arts and Crafts movement’s emphasis on the incorporation of art into daily life. Here, the natural ground of a family keepsake is given new life with the embroidered stylized floral pattern in soft colors typical of the movement’s aesthetic vocabulary.