Skip to main content
Cover for Four Centuries of Quilts

Four Centuries of Quilts

The Colonial Williamsburg Collection

Linda Baumgarten, Kimberly Smith Ivey, Ronald Hurst (Foreword by), Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (Other primary creator)


List Price: 50.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


An exquisite and authoritative look at four centuries of quilts and quilting from around the world

Quilts are among the most utilitarian of art objects, yet the best among them possess a formal beauty that rivals anything made on canvas. This landmark book, drawn from the world-renowned collection of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, highlights the splendor and craft of quilts with more than 300 superb color images and details. Fascinating essays by two noted scholars trace the evolution of quilting styles and trends as they relate to the social, political, and economic issues of their time.
The collection includes quilts made by diverse religious and cultural groups over 400 years and across continents, from the Mediterranean, England, France, America, and Polynesia. The earliest quilts were made in India and the Mediterranean for export to the west and date to the late 16th century. Examples from 18th- to 20th-century America, many made by Amish and African-American quilters, reflect the multicultural nature of American society and include boldly colored and patterned worsteds and brilliant pieced and appliquéd works of art.
Grand in scope and handsomely produced, Four Centuries of Quilts: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection is sure to be one of the most useful and beloved references on quilts and quilting for years to come. 

Published in association with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Exhibition Schedule:

Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg
(06/07/14–May 2016)

Praise For Four Centuries of Quilts: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection

"A wonderful book, an enormous, fabulous overview devoted to the world-famous collection of Colonial Williamsburg. . . . The two textile conservators responsible for the collection offer us in this book a fabulous journey to a land of richly documented quilts and hundreds of photos of extraordinary pieces. Obviously, this is one to collect!"—Quiltmania

"[A] landmark book . . . The book is a trove of information and inspiration, and one that any lover of antique quilts or quilt history must own."—Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting

"Grand in scope and handsomely produced, Four Centuries of Quilts is sure to be one of the most useful and beloved references on quilts and quilting for years to come."—Quilt Scene Magazine, Winter 2015-16 issue

"The book Four Centuries of Quilts: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection, by the curators Linda Baumgarten and Kimberly Smith Ivey, . . . delves into the genealogies of craftswomen, including a Maine blueberry farmer, a Brooklyn philanthropist and an Alabama housekeeper."—Eve M. Kahn, New York Times

"Quilts aren’t just for warmth. As historical documents, for example, they show the ways women reacted to the Civil War and how far-flung countries traded with each other at an early date. . . . The book catalogs nearly 180 quilts from the museum’s collection, dating back more than 400 years, and tells the stories of the quilt-makers . . . often left out of the historical record."—Alexandra Wolfe, Wall Street Journal

"An important addition to any decorative arts library, for it contains the most recent quilt scholarship, carefully footnoted."—Lita Solis-Cohen, Maine Antiques Digest

"[Four Centuries of Quilts] is a joint publication by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Yale University Press. With those credentials you know that this big, attractive book is the word on quilt making in America."—Danielle Arnet, syndicated columnist, "The Smart Collector,"  Chicago Tribune

"Each quilt in the book is both a work of art as well as a historic document offering revealing clues to the past."—Antiques & Auction News

"[Four Centuries of Quilts] has got to be the most important work on the topic of quilts ever published. This volume highlights scads of exquisite eye candy, but it's those lovely 'Baltimore album quilts' that made me gasp. And it's obvious from the text that a tremendous amount of scholarly research went into this masterwork."—Steven Wayne Yvaska, San Jose Mercury News

"A landmark book. . . . Grand in scope and handsomely produced, Four Centuries of Quilts: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection is sure to be one of the most useful and beloved references on quilts and quilting for years to come."—San Francisco Book Review

"A collector's dream of a book."—Rose B. Gilbert, syndicated columnist, Creators Syndicate

"Does quilting count as art? In Four Centuries of Quilts, an expansive new survey published by Yale University Press, authors Linda Baumgarten and Kimberly Smith Ivey say yes. . . . The book presents a powerful case. . . . These richly informative textiles connect us to the past, other cultures, each other. Sounds like art to me."—Laura C. Mallonee, Hyperallergic

"The substance and breadth of this lavishly illustrated museum collection catalog make it a worthy addition to the well-established scholarly literature on the history and significance of quilts and quilt making in American culture. . . . Endnotes for each chapter are excellent, lending depth and texture. . . . Book design is first-rate, with period photographs, portraits, related artifacts, detail close-ups, and black-and-white diagrams providing context for 130-plus full-page color plates."—Choice

"Revel in 400 years of quilt history through the pages of Four Centuries of Quilts. . . . The book’s historical references are supplemented with spectacular full-page photos as well as close-up detail photograph."— (March 2015)

Yale University Press, 9780300207361, 356pp.

Publication Date: October 28, 2014

About the Author

Linda Baumgarten is curator of textiles and costumes, Kimberly Smith Ivey is curator of textiles and historic interiors, and Ronald Hurst is the Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator and vice president of collections, conservation, and museums, all at Colonial Williamsburg.