Harriet Powers Pictorial Quilt

The most famous and fascinating quilt in the Museum of Fine Art’s collection is the Harriet Powers Pictorial Quilt, which for 60 years hung in a house at Westport Point!

The Pictorial Quilt is a center piece of the current exhibition at the MFA, Fabric of a Nation, American Quilt Stories. The story of the quilt links the life of its maker Harriet Powers, who was born into slavery, to the work of Reverend Charles Cuthbert Hall as an advocate for education of newly emancipated African Americans.

Made in the 1890s, the quilt shows biblical scenes juxtaposed with astronomical events such as a meteor shower and natural phenomena such as the “dark day of 1780.” The quilt was gifted to Reverend Hall in 1897 and installed on the second floor of Synton House at Westport Point. The quilt was a treasured possession of the Hall family and was eventually donated to the MFA.



Basil Hall with young boy and Pictorial Quilt

Pictorial Quilt made by Harriet Powers, courtesy MFA Boston