By: Gloria Craft Comstock
The Hortense Horton Beck Collection, presented in 2008 for the education collection of the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, is the only assemblage of late-twentieth-century reproduction American masterpiece quilts, according to the IQSC’s director, Dr. Patricia Crews. The Hortense Horton Beck Collection is a showcase of complex and challenging “museum ‘picture’” quilts (as the maker called such pictorial appliqué quilts), revealing technical skills that rival those of the original quiltmakers. This generous gift allows these reproductions of significant American quilts to be shared with diverse audiences to a broad range of exhibition spaces and conditions.
Using Hortense Beck’s autobiography and notebooks, oral histories, ephemera, newspaper articles, and the quilts themselves, this paper explores the motivations and processes behind Hortense’s mission to interpret and recreate some of America’s iconic appliqué quilts.