- Elizabeth Sanford Jennings Hopkins, American, 1824-1904
- Born: Connecticut
- Work Locations: New York
- New York
- United States
About the Artist
Album quilts were often made by a group of women, with each member contributing a block. This quilt, however, was made entirely by Elizabeth Hopkins. Born in Connecticut, Elizabeth made this quilt after marrying her husband Charles Hopkins in 1841 and moving to Port Jefferson, Long Island. Charles was a seaman and it is believed that in the early days of their marriage, Elizabeth accompanied him on some of his trips, during which she saw examples of album quilts from Baltimore. Album quilts flourished in the 1840s and 1850s along the Eastern seaboard. Each block of an album quilt has a different motif, made by stitching shapes cut from solid or patterned material to a background fabric. Elizabeth filled some of the blocks on her quilt with images that were relevant to her family. This quilt remained in the Hopkins family until it was acquired by the Denver Art Museum in 2007.
What Inspired It
Album quilts of this type tended to use solid or small-scale printed fabrics. Many of the floral and decorative motifs on the Hopkins quilt are common to album quilts of the period, but some of the images are more personal. Flying the banner “HOPE,” the sailing ship surrounded by blue fish references Elizabeth’s husband’s life as a seaman and the maritime community in which she lived. Hopkins also quilted a lighthouse and a heart on the ship block. Another block (fourth row down, third column across) may represent a compass, a navigational instrument used by sea captains. The quilt block that shows a well-furnished interior and the blocks with musical instruments suggest that the family lived in a comfortable home.
Hopkins used both geometric and organic shapes. Geometric shapes, like triangles and diamonds, were used to create the baskets and star-shaped images. Organic shapes, with their more natural, curvy lines, were used to create leaves, flowers, and fruits.
Various fruits and plants—grapes, apples, pears, strawberries, cherries, and tulips—can be found on different blocks throughout the quilt. Some of these details are padded and project slightly from the surface of the quilt.
The two outer blocks of the third row from the top are quilted with a snowflake-like symmetrical pattern. Though they look similar, there are small variations in design. For example, look at the center of each snowflake; one has a heart and the other has a circle.
Several green and red printed fabrics were used for various parts of the quilt. Look for the green printed fabric on the outside perimeter of the quilt and the red printed fabric used to create the violin and strawberries.
The tiniest details on the quilt—like the notes on the sheet music and the face of the clock—are drawn by hand.
The stitching on the quilt not only holds the layers of fabric together but also allows for additional patterns and designs. Hopkins created hearts and leaf-shaped designs with her stitches.
Using Elizabeth Hopkins’s Album Quilt as inspiration, students will create an album quilt of their own that tells their life story in images and patterns.More
Using Elizabeth Hopkins’s Album Quilt and two stories as inspiration, students will design and create a quilt square that tells a story about their lives. They will present their stories to the class, explaining the significance of the quilt square and the story that inspired it.More
In this lesson students will work with tangram shapes and learn to spot the shapes in Elizabeth Hopkins’s Album Quilt.More
Students will look at and discuss how the Kootenai Indians in the painting In the Enemy’s Country remain undetected, then use what they have learned to go on their own silent expedition.More
Students will look at decorations and details of a late 19th century cabinet and imagine the life and times of the family who owned it by researching events during this time period.More
After looking closely at Greased Lightning, students will examine the unusual angle the artist chose. They will explore other images of horses and then try their hand at drawing what Leigh’s scene would look like from the opposite side.More
Students will examine and discuss the Altar Screen, then collaboratively create a timeline or note on an existing timeline the important historical and political events of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado around the time this screen would have been created and displayedMore
Students will look at William R. Leigh’s painting Greased Lightning and imagine stories that explain what might have startled the horse, then they will have the chance to act out their imagined stories.More