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Maker(s):Foote, Abigail (attributed)
Culture:American (1757-1852)
Title:bed rug
Date Made:ca. 1780
Materials:textile: blue and white wool (crewel) yarns; linen or wool ground
Place Made:United States; Connecticut; Colchester
Measurements:overall: 82 1/2 x 83 in.; 209.55 x 210.82 cm
Accession Number:  HD F.416
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Bed rug with wool crewel embroidery covered overall with a meandering, stylized floral and vine design on a wool ground, and a dark indigo netted fringe, which was done in pattern-darning or counted-thread filling stitches in three shades of indigo blue and black on an undyed cream ground. The rug, which is unsigned and not dated, may have been made by Abigail Foote (1757-1852), daughter of Israel Foote 1713-1788) and Elizabeth Kimberly Foote (1715-1798) who married in 1748. Similar rugs were made by her sisters, Elizabeth (1750-1845) (now at the Conecticut Historical Society) and Mary (1752-1837) in 1778 (now at the Winterthur Museum), both of whom were married on November 5, 1778. Examination of these three rugs while on exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum in 1772 indicated that Elizabeth's and Mary's rugs were done at the same time, and perhaps from the same dye lots. The similarity persists in Abigail's rug - not done at the same time but from the same source. Abigail married in Nathaniel Foote (1742-1842) of Colchester in 1791. Ulrich suggests that this example may instead have been made by Sarah Otis, an in-law to Abigail Foote. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, "rugg" meant a coarse woolen cloth or bed cover; textiles were generally too valuable to be placed on the floor. Extant 'bed rugs' tend to be heavily needleworked bed coverings, sewn or embroidered, with or without a pile on the face, with or without shaped ends, worked in polychrome, or rarely monochrome wools on a woven foundation. Bed rugs were primarily made in the Connecticut River Valley and western New England; they were used to provide warmth and decoration in cold New England bedchambers. These rugs, which showed a woman's domestic and artistic abilities, and were probably made by many individuals. Most surviving rugs have surface covering designs and many have a tapestry-like effect (if no pile); the tree-of-life and floral designs are similar to patterns found on contemporary English and East Indian textiles and wall coverings. The designs on the Foote sisters' rugs are closely related to 16th and 17th century patterns found in the English black embroideries, which was widely popular during the reign of King Henry VIII (1491-1547), and the heavy crewelworked bed hangings. This simlarity of motifs suggests that either a common source or one designer was responsible for the patterns. Another design source is suggested by the block-printed lining papers in 17th century English charter, deed and other document boxes, and even in ancient trunks; the few know exampes are printed in black on white paper with the large leaves and flowers filled with crosshatching and small geometric forms growing from meandering vines. One colonial example is known - a box with English block-printed paper with such a pattern, which contained the Patent of Plymouth Colony, dated 1629.

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