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Gordon Campbell

(b 1845; d 1908).

American interior decorator and founder of the first tapestry factory in the USA. He worked for Herter Brothers (see Herter, Christian) on the decoration of a series of grand houses, notably William H. Vanderbilt’s house on Fifth Avenue, New York, and William Welsh Harrison’s Grey Towers Castle (now part of Arcadia University) in Philadelphia. When the Vanderbilt house was completed in 1882, Christian Herter returned to Germany and Baumgarten took over the company. In 1891 he started his own company, William Baumgarten and Company, Inc., and in 1893 complemented his interior decoration business with a tapestry factory in his Fifth Avenue premises. He recruited weavers and dyers from the Royal Windsor Tapestry Manufactory (which had closed in 1890), including five weavers from the Foussadier family. The factory’s tapestries include one at Grey Towers (1898).

A Short Résumé of the History of Tapestry Making in the Past and Present...


Sandra Sider

Folk art, or vernacular art (specific to a group or place), developed in Colonial America out of necessity when individual households produced most of the utilitarian objects required for daily life. Using traditional tools and techniques, many of these makers created pieces in which aesthetics came to play a substantial role, through form, ornamentation, or both. In some groups, notably the Shakers, function was emphasized, with pure form evoking an aesthetic and spiritual response. Religious beliefs have informed American folk art, such as the saints and other figures (Santos) carved and painted by Catholic settlers in the Southwest as early as 1700. Although the majority of folk art is now anonymous, the oeuvre of numerous individual artists can be determined by their distinctive styles or marks. Folk art is often considered within the field of ‘material culture’, with an emphasis on the object’s context rather than its creator. Most American folk art falls within three categories: painting and cut paper, textiles and fibre, and three-dimensional work such as furniture, carvings, metalwork, ceramics, and outdoor installations....


Edward J. Nygren

(b Burton in Kendall or Lorton, Cumbria, 1760; d Brooklyn, NY, Aug 12, 1820).

American painter of English birth. In England he was apprenticed to a tailor and then worked in the textile trade. A business failure prompted him to leave London for New York in 1795. By early 1798 he was settled in Baltimore, MD, where he lived for the next 20 years. Having unsuccessfully attempted to establish a dyeing operation, he took up painting as a livelihood. Basically self-taught, Guy specialized in American views, especially cityscapes, although he occasionally painted English landscapes and treated more exotic places, undoubtedly using prints as sources of inspiration. The Tontine Coffee House of New York (New York, NY Hist. Soc.), one of his first major paintings, was probably executed in the early 1800s, although it has frequently been dated 1797. Guy is especially known for his panoramas of Baltimore (Large View of Baltimore from Chapel Hill, 1803; New York, Brooklyn Mus.) and for his meticulous renderings of various sites in and around his adopted city. He executed numerous views of country estates, some of which decorated painted chairs and tables made by the Finlay Brothers (Baltimore, MD, Mus. A.). Many of his paintings are preserved in the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore. With their crisply drawn forms, strolling couples and atmospheric clarity his compositions have a charming naive quality, reflective of Guy’s limited training but innate artistic ability; they also project an idyllic view of the young republic, its cultural development and natural potential....


Gordon Campbell

(b London, 1744; d Philadelphia, PA, 1821).

English calico printer, active in America. He was the son of a draper, and trained as a calico printer at Talwin and Foster, a textile printworks at Bromley Hall (Middx). He was assisted by Benjamin Franklin to emigrate, and in 1774 sailed to Philadelphia, where he opened a calico factory in the Kensington area. He printed material for dresses, handkerchiefs and furnishing fabrics, notably bedspreads with medallions depicting urns (e.g. Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A. and Winterthur, DE, Du Pont Winterthur Mus.). When Hewson retired in ...


American, 19th – 20th century, female.

Born 29 October 1837, in Athens (Georgia); died 1911.

Textile artist.

Folk Art.

Harriet Powers was an African-American artist who created 'story quilts' in needlepoint and appliqué, in which she depicted stories from the Bible and from African-American oral tradition, as well from as episodes from her own life. Born a slave, she married young and had nine children, the last of whom was born in ...


Margaret Moore Booker

(b nr Athens, GA, Oct 29, 1837; d Athens, GA, Jan 1, 1910).

African American quiltmaker. Born into slavery on a plantation near Athens, GA, Powers is known today as the finest African American quiltmaker of the late 19th–early 20th century. Drawing upon narrative folk tradition, Powers recorded in fabric the sermons and stories she had heard living in the South. Following her emancipation, Powers lived with her husband, Armstead Powers, and their children on a farm in the Sandy Creek region of Clarke County, GA. In 1895, at the age of 58, she became the head of her household and supported her family by working as a seamstress. She could neither read nor write, and likely learned to sew from her plantation mistress.

Powers created her quilts by cutting simple shapes (figures, animals, stars and other forms) from printed fabric and sewing them onto squares of plain cloth. She arranged the squares in rows on a large rectangular cloth and embroidered the details by hand and by machine with plain and metallic yarns. Textile scholars note that her quilting method is closely related to the appliqué technique of the Fon people of Abomey, the capital of Dahomey (now the Republic of Benin) in West Africa....


American, 20th century, female.

Born 1926, in San Francisco.


Kay Sekimachi studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. She gave up graphic arts to become a weaver in 1954 under the direction of Trude Guermonprez. After 1960 she began weaving with nylon filaments, then created her works with elements obtained from three-dimensional transparent shapes....


John Mawer

( Thurber )

(b Delhi, Delaware Co., NY, 1827; d New York, Aug 5, 1923).

American designer . She came from a prosperous and artistic background. She saw the Royal School of Needlework’s exhibition at the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia, which inspired her to found, in 1877, the Society of Decorative Arts of New York City, the aim of which was to restore the status of crafts traditionally associated with women and provide them with the opportunity to produce high-quality, handmade work which could be profit-making. The Society, which generated sister branches in major American cities, taught many design and craft techniques, but art needlework remained the focus. In 1879 Wheeler entered into partnership with Louis Comfort Tiffany ( see Tiffany family, §2 ) to form Louis C. Tiffany & Associated Artists, which, by the early 1880s, was the most successful decorating firm in New York. She designed embroideries, textiles ( see fig. ), and wallpaper for the company, but in 1883 the partnership was dissolved. Wheeler retained the ...


American, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1949, in Illinois.

Installation and textile artist.

Anne Wilson received her BFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1972, and her MFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts, Los Angeles in 1976. She is Professor of Fiber and Material Studies at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she has taught since ...